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Mid-Major Showdown in Fairfax

George Mason Basketball: Mid-Major Showdown in Fairfax

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mid-Major Showdown in Fairfax

Do I smell a rivalry brewing here? You bet. The George Mason Patriots have got to love the Wichita State Shockers though. Not only did they beat the Shockers on the road, giving them a solid out of conference win on their resume, but then beat them in the third round of the NCAA tournament to advance to UConn in the Elite Eight. Oh how sweet it was. Wichita State would like nothing more than to come into the Patriot Center, watch our fans cheer at the revealing of the Final Four banner, then beat us and move up in the poll rankings. Sweet revenge right? I don't think so. The Patriots are going to beat the Shockers this Saturday and heres why:

1. Will Thomas. Thomas was a monster down in the low post last season and had a coming out party in the tournament last season. This past weekend he dominated Cleveland State scoring a career high 25 points. The Schockers will not have an answer for him. Wichita will most likely be playing three guards because they don't really have any other forward worthy of starting. Kyle Wilson has the size (6'8" 235 lbs) to contend with Thomas but hes an outside shooter and doesn't play down low and do the dirty work like Thomas does. Plus Thomas won't even be playing the 5, he will be playing the 4 along side Monroe at center. Monroe (6'7" 260 lbs) will also create match up problems and could thrive off Thomas being double teamed.

2. Atmosphere at the Patriot Center. For the first time in my four years of watching George Mason basketball I can actually predict a sell out crowd that will be loud. With the Final Four buzz still flowing through campus there will not an empty seat in the house on Saturday. I know, Wichita State plays in front of a loud packed stadium nightly; but this will give a huge morale boost to our players. A boost that the older players are not used to seeing and will be pleasantly surprised. An arena with 10,000 screaming fans who think their team is unbeatable after watching them last March is not an environment any team wants to play in.

3. We have their number. The Patriots were able to take care of business against the Schockers on the road, and then in an NCAA tournament game. It doesn't get more serious than that. And now we play them in our house. The Patriots don't have Skinn, Lewis, or Butler anymore but they still have Coach Larranaga. Larranaga was able to pull off a win against a Wichita State team that was playing better than the Patriots all game long in that bracketbuster last season. I believe this experience will be a huge factor in this Saturday's game.

4. John Vaughn. He will most likely be the x-factor in this game and like Thomas I think he will create match up problems. The Schockers have a great backcourt tandem but if one of them is not guarding Vaughn he will run loose while hes being guarded by someone much slower. Look for the Patriots at certain points to use a three guard line up of Carter, Campbell, and Vaughn, which would give them a chance to get Vaughn more involved. Campbell can play the 1, 2, or 3 spot, which allows Carter to come in and shake up things up for the opposing team. The Schockers will go from having to play a bigger line up to a smaller one the whole game; something they are not built for.


Blogger Mike said...

Turgeon is a great coach and the Shockers will do well this season but Coach L is the man. We've got the firepower to ut up points. The big question is can we play shut down defense like we did last year. This game will tell a lot. A full house is a big plus! With the banner raising the crowd should be loud.

9:49 PM  

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