This was not supposed to happen. A team with more depth than anyone else in the country, the best pure PG in the nation (Marcus Williams), the potential #1 pick in the NBA Draft (Rudy Gay), the best 6th Man in the Nation who seemingly had ice water in his veins (Rashad Anderson), the #1 shot blocking team in the country, a Hall-of-Fame coach, and experience is not supposed to lose to a #11 seed in the Elite Eight.
But somebody forgot to tell that to George Mason.
Despite late-game heroics for the second game in a row to allow Connecticut to send the game into overtime, George Mason defeated Connecticut 86-84 in OT as Denham Brown's 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good.
Sticking true to their tournament form, George Mason was extremely balanced. They were led in scoring by Jai Lewis with 20 points. After that, Will Thomas and Lamar Butler had 19 each, Folarin Campbell has 15, and Tony Skinn had 10. Rudy Gay led UConn with 20 points in what might have been his last collegiate game.
While Connecticut probably could have played a little better, all the credit has to go to George Mason. They played a fantastic game, especially in the 2nd half and OT. They didn't turn the ball over much (only 11 TO), they shot 50% from beyond the arc, and they outrebounded an extremely good rebounding team by 4. Don't be fooled by their seed... beating Michigan St., North Carolina, Wichita St., and Connecticut in a 2-week span is great no matter who you are, and they didn't even need any miracle shots to win any of the games. They definitely earned respect for the little man in college basketball.
For a laugh, here's ESPN's Final Word about George Mason when they previewed the tournament:
Skinn's cheap shot in the CAA semis -- and the resulting one-game suspension -- figures to be too much for the Patriots, essentially a seven-man team, to overcome.
On a separate note, I really wish I could whistle like Jim Larranaga, George Mason's coach.
The other game was a surpisingly dull matchup between Villanova and Florida. Both teams play an up-and-down style, so I was thinking we would be in for an entertaining game, but Villanova, or should I say Villanova players not named Randy Foye and Jason Fraser forgot to show up. Foye contributed 25 in a losing effort, as Florida beat Villanova 75-62.
The story of this game was how bad Allan Ray was. 5/19 for 11 points. And he was getting some decent looks, he just could not hit the broad side of a barn. Has to be a tough pill to swallow after a fantastic senior year. Florida was led by Joakim Noah's 21 points and 15 rebounds, Al Horford's 12 points and 15 rebounds, and Taurean Green's 19 points. Corey Brewer was also huge in his defense of Allan Ray.
With experts like Clark Kellogg predicting all four #1 seeds to make the Final Four (before the brackets were announced, no less!), this is the first year since 1980 that none of the #1 seeds will be at the Final Four. A wacky year, a wacky tournament, and fittingly, a wacky Final Four. And I wouldn't want it any other way.
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