I feel like that really uncool kid eating lunch at the edge of the cafeteria all alone, except replace the lunch table for a high-def TV and that’ll be me tonight.
No, it’s not the Madness that comes with March. It’s not even the NIT, but big news in The Blonde Side’s world is George Mason is set to take on University of Houston for the first time ever tonight in the CBI Quarterfinals at home inside the Patriot Center.
Why is this game important? Well, because Mason is my alma mater and secondly, I live in Houston, so it’s kind of a world colliding kind of thing for me. Oh and don’t forget, once upon a time (back in 2006 that is), George Mason was relevant during March Madness. You remember that Cinderella story, right?
And lucky for YOU, the Sweet Sixteen doesn’t start until Thursday, so your TV is wide open to watch this game.
The Patriots (19-14) in the Colonial Athletic Association and Cougars (20-12) in Conference USA will be meeting for the first time. While Houston has won five of their last six games (the last and most notable against Texas), the Patriots have struggled a bit more alternating ticks in the win and loss columns to get to the Quarterfinals.
Mason, led by head coach Paul Hewitt, had a buzzer-beater against the College of Charleston to get to this matchup. And not playing on the big stage like they did a few years back, the Patriots are hungry for attention and relevance once again – something they haven’t had much of since the departure of Jim Larranaga almost two years ago. It seems he too decided to take his talents (and subsequent growing bank account) to South Beach.
The Patriots are 7-6 while at home in the Patriot Center and averaging 67.1 points/game with a free throw percentage of .719, but the red and white Cougars, who are just 5-7 on the road this season, are on their own mission. Houston is one of 98 teams in NCAA Division I with 20+ wins this season (out of 345) and remain just one of two Texas teams still alive in the College Basketball Invitational (Baylor the other).
The winner of tonight’s game advances on to the Semifinals on Wednesday where unlike traditional tourneys, the CBI is re-bracketed after the quarter round.
Let’s go MASON!
Honestly – cheering for and paying attention to the CBI while Dick Vitale and the Madness is going on around the corner feels weird. But a W by the Patriots will sure as hell help this awkward feeling. While the CBI may not sound like much now, the two teams have clearly had success over the years and it’s just a matter of a better record next season where you might see more action from either team. U of H has had 5 NCAA Final Fours, 19 NCAA Tournaments, 13 Conference Championships, 24 All-Americans, 3 Hall of Fame Inductees, 24 NBA Players, 2 No. 1 Overall Draft Picks and Mason (while not nearly the same kind of success), has had 3 NBA players, 6 NCAA Tournaments including one glass-slipper Final Four finish, and made it to the NIT 4 times.
[Please tell me someone somewhere cares about this game as much as I do? And did I already mention March Madness is on break tonight?]
The Sports Network PRedicted Outcome is Houston 72, George Mason 66. (I call BS y’all.)