Men's Basketball: Déjà vu, or something new?

Gearing up for Selection Sunday, but bummed about the Patriots' performance at the CAA Tourney? One of our readers, junior Andrew Decelle, thinks there's not much to worry about. He thinks the Men's Basketball team may in the same – if not better shape – than 2006, the year of their Cinderella run to the Final Four.

Here's what Decelle submitted to us:


Dear Mason community:

We discuss the similarities and differences between this year’s Mason team and the 2006 team that went to the Final Four.

After weeks of saying it to my friends, the New York Times finally picked up on the question that everyone will be talking about once the brackets come out on Selection Sunday: “Could George Mason be this year’s George Mason?”

Only time will tell whether or not this year’s team will create a Mid-Major Cinderella story of their own, but until then, there are some interesting and somewhat uncanny resemblances between the two teams. In fact, one could make a legitimate argument that the 2010-2011 Patriots may be even better than the team that danced its way to the Final Four.

Let’s take a look at how the teams compare:

  • Both teams were ranked 25th in Coaches poll late February. During the week they were ranked, both teams were also tied for 26th in the AP poll (Random coincidence? Or Destiny?).
  • This year’s team actually had a better conference record. The Patriots are 16-2 this year which matches the most wins by any team in CAA history, as opposed to the 15-3 finish the year we went to the Final Four . The better record lead to the Patriots first outright CAA Regular season championship, while the 2006 Patriots shared the regular season title with UNC-Wilmington.
  • Both teams went undefeated in Conference at home. However, this year’s team went undefeated at home for the entire season (Mason suffered a non-conference home loss to Creighton in the 05-06 campaign, their only home loss of the season). The undefeated season marked Mason’s 2nd undefeated home season in the past 3 seasons. In fact, Mason has only 5 home losses at the Patriot Center in their past 4 seasons, and the combine margin of defeat in those five games is a stunning 15 points. 

    No wonder the schools from the Big 6 conferences (non-mid-majors) seem shy to schedule games at the Patriot Center…
  • Neither team had a star player, but instead different players would step up at different times. This year Mason has 4 players who average double figures each game. In ’05 – ‘06, all 5 of Mason’s starters averaged double digits each game. While Cam Long is undeniably the leader of this year’s team, on any given night, Pearson, Cornelius, Morrison and Hancock can definitely step it up. They do so on a regular basis.
  • Worried about how our team will respond in the NCAA Tournament after a loss to VCU in the CAA Tournament Semi-Finals? Don’t be. Mason also lost in the semi-finals the year of their Final Four. The team that beat us, Hofstra, went on to lose in the finals of the CAA tournament. Many Patriots fans were quite happy to see VCU follow in Hofstra’s footsteps going on to lose ODU in the CAA Championship game this past Monday night.

Regardless of how this year’s George Mason team ends up doing in the Big Dance, this has been the most successful regular season in GMU basketball history. Fairfax has finally caught March Madness fever once again, and we should expect the temperature to climb as Mason fans get ready to see the team’s official seed and first matchup announced tomorrow evening.

Reader and Patriot,
Andrew Decelle


What do you think? Is Decelle right, or is the comparison flawed?

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