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George Mason, anyone? Odds are, probably not

March 28, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

And you wonder why it's called March Madness?

If there is someone out there who has a bracket that was officially submitted prior to the beginning of the NCAA Tournament that had George Mason picked to go to the Final Four, show me it and I'll interview you and find out your reasoning for selecting the Patriots.

Chances are slim to none that I'll get the proof - and with good reason.

Who in their right mind is going to pick a No. 11 seed? A mid-major? A school from the Colonial Athletic Association?

The NCAA selection committee is smiling now as George Mason proved its selection to the big dance was correct.

First Michigan State, then North Carolina fell victims to the Patriots. An almost anti-climactic win over Wichita State followed, and you knew everyone was saying, "The end has come," as No. 1 Connecticut loomed.

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It's reaching a pretty good level of tournament success to beat two of the Final Four teams from last year - Michigan State and UNC. But what chances did you give George Mason on Sunday against Connecticut? About as much as I did.

Having already won four games to get to the Final Four, George Mason may well fall flat on its face against Florida in the national semifinals. Then again, maybe not. It just depends on how the foot still fits into Cinderella's glass shoe.

Don't try to tell the folks at George Mason the win over UConn was one of major proportions. Not since Villanova beat Georgetown in 1985 for the championship has there been such a huge upset. It's in the same category as North Carolina State's upset of Houston in 1983 and when Virginia and Ralph Sampson were upset by Chaminade in 1982. George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga knows about that one - he was an assistant coach at Virginia.

This NCAA Tournament has offered more excitement from the very beginning than any past tournament I can remember. Games have been exciting from the beginning, there haven't been many blowouts, and of course, there have been the upsets.

It's been a tournament of last-minute shots in regulation to force overtime, last-minute shots to win in overtime and last-minute shots that went astray and resulted in a loss.

And if, by chance, you've tuned into the women's tournament, they've had their stirring outcomes too.

Just go back to Sunday, when Ivory Latta wrecked the upset hopes of Purdue and gave North Carolina a last-second win. Closing in on the midnight hour Sunday, Georgia was close to an upset of Connecticut on a 3-pointer for a one-point lead before UConn's Barbara Turner hit a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer.

You want some good basketball to watch tonight? Tune in to the North Carolina-Tennessee women's game. That should be a doozy.

I'm wondering, but really don't care, what Billy Packer was thinking Sunday night when George Mason beat Connecticut. Remember, he said on the day of the selection show that mid-majors don't belong. Crow!

However, in our lifelong pursuit of happiness and our revelry in the hype and hysteria of sports, just remember not to get too carried away. Putting things into perspective, it is so unfortunate for family and friends of Paul Dano, the IRL race driver who lost his life Sunday just as he was going to make his first career start.




Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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