Despite being picked 10th in the preseason Atlantic 10 poll, George Mason is a team that has its eyes on some big accomplishments this year. This squad has the talent to make a run to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, or at the very least, an NIT appearance. Yet, despite this, George Mason is the team that no one seems to be talking about.
KenPom has the Patriots ranked 169th, 23 spots below George Washington who was picked to finish one spot behind Mason in the preseason A-10 poll. KenPom predicts GMU will finish with a 14-16 record, and just 7-11 in conference play. Those are some mind mindbogglingly low numbers.
1. Is Otis Livingston II ready to make this his team?
A name you could hear in the mix for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year is Otis Livingston II. With the graduation of Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins, two of Mason’s top three scorers from last season, there are a few noticeable spots in the lineup that will need replacing. The strong incoming freshman class will certainly help take some of the load off of Livingston’s shoulders, but don’t be mistaken, this is Otis’ team this year.
Last season, Otis averaged 14.3 points per game, and was the second-highest scorer on the George Mason roster. Those numbers could easily inflate to 18 points per game, as was highlighted in our spotlight article on Livingston. This is his team, and while he is more than capable of putting a team on his back, he will need some help for the Patriots to make a run at March this year; other guys need to step up.
2. What do the Patriots need to do to be considered a contender?
Theoretically, should George Mason defeat Louisville in the KFC Yum! Center on November 12, it’d definitely have some momentum and gain recognition as a potential NCAA Tournament team this year. Mind you, that’s one big “if.” The Patriots’ schedule includes games against Auburn, Penn State and LA Tech, and possibly Fresno State (depending on game results in the Cancun Challenge) — all great opportunities.
Realistically, George Mason could enter conference play with an 11-2 record which would definitely put it in a very good position. The Patriots open A-10 play at Rhode Island on December 30, who at this point in the season, will most likely be ranked. Can you imagine a GMU 12-2 team heading into the new year? Even posting a 11-3 or 10-4 record would still have George Mason still very much in the conversation. Again, these are lofty expectations though, and Paulsen’s team will have a lot to prove if it wants to manage that kind of a record.
3. Why not George Mason?
As the original Cinderella, George Mason is certainly no stranger to the underdog role. Remember the Final Four in 2006? Yeah, the Patriots were a “mid-major” making serious noise in March before it was mainstream. Since moving from the CAA to the A-10, George Mason has been a program trending upwards. Just last year, the Patriots secured their first-ever Atlantic 10 Tournament win, defeating Fordham 82-71 in OT. This is a program trending in the right direction, and one that I believe is ready to take the next step. Why not George Mason?