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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Holy fucking shit, George Mason is in the final four


Turns out they couldn't

(11) George Mason 86, (1) Connecticut 84, OT
Preview - Box Score - Recap

By JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer
March 26, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) -- George Mason's players stood on the press table, waving their jerseys to the crowd. Coach Jim Larranaga walked around with the nylon net around his neck.

It won't be the same old schools from the same old conferences at this year's Final Four -- certainly not top-seeded Connecticut.

Buoyed by a partisan crowd and playing some 20 miles from their campus, 11th-seeded George Mason overcame huge disadvantages in size, athleticism and history Sunday to stun the Huskies 86-84 in overtime, ending a stranglehold that big-time programs have enjoyed for 27 years in college basketball's biggest showcase.

Improbable as it may seem, the powers-that-be are going to have to make room for a suburban commuter school from Fairfax, Va., that was a dicey choice to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large team.

"I was kidding with one of my assistants," Larranaga said, "We're not just an at-large team, we're an at-extra-large. And if we win today, we're going to be an at-extra-double-large. I can't tell you how much fun I'm having."

The Patriots overcame their deficiencies with heart and tenacity. They were never rattled, even when they trailed by 12 late in the first half and nine early in the second. They hit six straight 3-pointers in the second half, shot 5-for-6 in overtime and outrebounded UConn 37-34 even though the Huskies have three starters taller than any of the Patriots' frontcourt players.

There was also motivation from Larranaga, who fired up his team during timeouts by telling them that UConn's players didn't even know which conference George Mason is in.

"That's a little bit of disrespect," guard Tony Skinn said. "Coach told us the CAA stands for 'Connecticut Assassin Association."'

Of course, as more people are learning, CAA stands for Colonial Athletic Association, a league that has never had a team get this far before. The Patriots (27-7) are only the second double-digit seed to make the Final Four, matching LSU's run, also as an 11th seed, in 1986. They are the first true outsider to crash the quartet since Penn and Indiana State both got there in 1979.
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This has been the most amazing tourney I've seen in years. There was a lot of debate about George Mason making it into the tourney, but the final four.

The last time I heard this much whining was when Europeans were bitching about the inclusion of the US and Senegal in the World Cup. All it took was one little victory against Portugal to shut people the fuck up. And watching Senegal run rings around other teams.

George Mason played up with UConn and that broke them. At the end of OT, they looked defeated, as in "how the hell did we wind up here, this is supposed to be over". George Mason was so stunned at winning, they were almost numb, very little jumping up and down. The same sort of surprise that you might feel when you wake up next to a supermodel, too stunned to jump, too happy to not keep smiling.

The NCAA had long devolved into the constest of the big schools, Mason's unexpected rise would for our English friends, be like Leeds winning the FA cup against Arsenal. Mason is a small school, but has benefitted from kids who have talent but were overlooked by the Duke and UConn's, and they have been changed by the flood of high school talent into the NBA. If Lebron James was at Ohio State, Carmello Anthony at Maryland or Virginia and Sebastian Telfair at 'Cuse or Georgetown, this would be a VERY different Final Four. Most of the big schools lack that game changing, championship winning star, who can now learn in the NBA.

Something, I think, should be banned, as it is for the NFL But that's another story.

posted by Steve @ 8:21:00 PM

8:21:00 PM

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