George Mason (12-7, 5-2) at Northeastern (12-7, 7-0) – 8:00 – Comcast SportsNet
The George Mason Patriots are 5-2 in conference play as we prepare to roll into February — that all-knowing month where contenders are revealed and frauds are exposed. They’ve won five of six games and trail only Northeastern in the CAA standings.
That time-tested mantra is once again ringing true for the green-clad guys from Fairfax, Va: it’s really not very often that a team gets the best of George Mason.
Of Mason’s two conference losses, mark one of them as an absolute fluke. UNCW, coming off a blowout loss at the hands of the consistently inconsistent JMU Dukes, upset Mason in a game only seers and liars saw coming. Seahawks freshman guard Chris Dixon played out of his mind on January 12, netting a career-high 30 points. Sherrod Wright put up 25, but this was Dixon’s day. UNCW won by 8.
Mason rebounded with a nice win over JMU and a tough 10-point victory at Towson. Drexel looms later this week, but first things first.
The Patriots have to beat Northeastern in Boston.
It won’t be easy. That other conference loss Mason has suffered? It was Northeastern, of course, and in the Patriot Center at that. The Huskies had three players (swingman Quincy Ford, reserve Zach Stahl, second-leading scorer Jonathan Lee) score at least 15 points; meanwhile, CAA player of the year candidate Sherrod Wright’s 19 points equaled his other four starters’ scoring contributions.
In a game where your opponent puts up 84 points, asking your wildly inconsistent bench to come up with 50 points is probably not a winning stratagem.
Northeastern owns the CAA right now because the sum of the parts is an actual team, unlike a lot of other Colonial squads. Wright is a first-rate guard, but he’s gotta get some help if Mason is to have any chance at making a run for the regular season title. Even if GMU can run out of Celtic-land with a W, they’re still going to have to get some help from someone else if they want to catch the Huskies.
Problem is, I’m not sure Mason will get enough help from their frontcourt/bench/players-not-named-Sherrod-Wright to win this game. And while I’m in the minority camp that’s calling the worst-over-first upset of Northeastern in a couple weeks when the Huskies travel to Norfolk, I’m just convinced that George Mason can’t muster enough scoring to outpace the league’s leaders.
Northeastern, 8-0. Mark it down.
Huskies 81, Patriots 70