Northeastern (5-7) at George Mason (7-5) – 7:00 NBC Sports
The Huskies and the Patriots kick of their CAA slates Thursday night at the Patriot Center. Interestingly, Northeastern was the last CAA team to win in the Patriot Center, when the Huskies won 50-48 on February 27th, 2010 (thank you, Alan). The Patriots hold the all-time series advantage with a 10-9 lead. Northeastern handed George Mason one of its four CAA losses last year at Mathews Arena, when the Huskies defeated the Patriots 85-82 in overtime.
Although both teams want to get off to a good start in conference play, Northeastern probably needs this win more. After a 4-1 start, the Huskies have lost six of their last seven games. Granted, they’d probably have a better record if Jonathan Lee had played more than three games, but that’s a moot point. They’ve still only one won game since Lee returned to action.
Who’s going to step up as Mason’s second offensive option? Sherrod Wright is one of the frontrunners for CAA Player of the Year, but the Patriots need another consistent option beside him. Johnny Williams 7.7 points/game currently puts him second on the Patriots, but he hasn’t reached double figures since the Boston game on November 24th. Other players have shown flashes on a young squad, but this team may have vaulted to bell cow status after the early struggles of Delaware and Drexel.
Mason has struggled handling the ball, and Northeastern’s combination of Lee and Joel Smith could make things difficult. Still, I’m taking Wright and the Patriots’ home court advantage.
George Mason 67 Northeastern 63