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Atlantic 10 Sunday Preview and Predictions

Game of the Day: George Mason at #16 Louisville | 2 ET | RSN

Louisville, KY- To say this is the biggest game in recent memory for George Mason would be an understatement. This is almost without a doubt the biggest game since their last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011, and mainly because of its’ implications for this year’s team making it back to the Big Dance. Nobody beats Louisville at Louisville in non-conference play, nobody. The last time the Cardinals lost to a team at home in non-con, aside from Kentucky or Duke, was Drexel back in 2010. To put that in perspective, in 2010, Louisville still played at Freedom Hall and Jim Larranaga was still coaching the Patriots in the CAA.

UofL hasn’t even lost to a non Power-5 school since Memphis back in 2014. That’s not taking into account all the drama surround the university right now. In the wake of the most recent allegations, this time as a result of a FBI Investigation, UofL removed long-time head coach Rick Pitino as well as Athletic Director Tom Jurich. David Padgett is now the head man for the Cards, and, though this may come to a surprise to many college basketball fans, the city of Louisville has embraced the new coach. At the first Red & White Scrimmage of the season, Coach Padgett was met with a standing ovation from the crowd which filled most of the lower bowl of the KFC Yum! Center.

“I’m not sure I deserve that,” Padgett said timidly, “but thank you.”

UofL basketball means so much to the city of Louisville, and the fact this game is the season opener, and the first game in the David Padgett era, adds just that much more to the story of this game. No one in the Louisville metro area, not even the most hopeful Kentucky fan, is giving George Mason even a remote chance in this game. KenPom gives the Cardinals a 96% chance to win this game, and predicts a 19-point victory for Louisville. Most people would probably even say that’s a generous score, and that the Patriots will fall by closer to 40 points.

There’s no doubt this game will be full of emotion for both the Louisville team as well as their fans. But if you’re George Mason, what more could you ask for? When this matchup was announced back in July, Rick Pitino was still the head coach and UofL had one of the nation’s top incoming freshman in Brian Bowen. Now, both Pitino (aka Coach 12) and Bowen (Player 11) are both gone from the program, and David Padgett will be coaching in his first ever game as a head coach at any NCAA program.

In essence, one team is heading in an unknown direction, and may well be distracted. The other team, is a team everyone has already counted out, both in this game and this season as a whole. So if I’m George Mason, I’m licking my chops. Every team in America would love to be in the position Dave Paulen’s squad is in today, facing an opportunity to beat Louisville at Louisville in their first game in the post-FBI Investigation era of UofL basketball. So why not George Mason?

My prediction: Louisville 78 George Mason 67

UMass at Harvard | 2 ET | NESN

Both teams struggled quite a bit in their season openers Friday night against, let’s face it, some lesser competition. The Minutemen found themselves in a dogfight with UMass-Lowell, squeaking away with a 74-69 victory. Harvard, on the other hand, had great difficulty putting away Division III MIT, eventually pulling out a 73-64 victory over the Engineers (perfect nickname for MIT, by the way). Seth Towns lead the Crimson with 20 points and will certainly draw the attention of UMass when they look at the game film. Despite their early struggles, Harvard was just two wins away from the NCAA Tournament before falling to Yale in the semifinals of the Ivy League Tournament. This certainly will be a game worth keeping an eye on this afternoon.

My prediction: UMass 75 Harvard 71

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Daniel Frank is a member of the George Mason Class of 2022. He graduated high school from the Academy For Individual Excellence in Louisville, KY. He ...