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Top of the Arc - March 10, 2009

March 9, 9:07 p.m.: After losing to Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA final, George Mason’s only path to the NCAA tournament is by virtue of an at-large berth. But the Patriots won’t be seriously considered even though their RPI is comparable to that of Saint Mary’s and South Carolina, two schools squarely on the bubble.

Why is that?

Even with the bubble teams being particularly mediocre this season, George Mason’s resume does not stack up. The Patriots’ nonconference strength of schedule is more than respectable (55th), and far superior to the ghastly nonconference strength of schedule of South Carolina (282).

Problem is, George Mason failed to take advantage of both opportunities against top 50 competition, losing to Dayton and Creighton. This is a season in which two wins against top 50 competition might be enough to get a team one of the final at-large berths. That’s what Saint Mary’s is hoping; after losing to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference final, the Gaels will have to hang their hat on wins over Utah State and San Diego State.

Another issue for George Mason is two losses against teams rated 200 or worse in the RPI, Hampton and Delaware. Even when you look at bubble teams with lightweight resumes, namely Saint Mary’s and South Carolina, those teams were a combined 17-0 against teams rated 200 or worse.

The biggest problem for Mason might be this: a 2-4 record against teams in the top 100. St. Mary’s is only 3-3 against top 100 teams, which is a problem. South Carolina is 7-7. Maryland is only 7-10 against top 100 teams. Not a good record, but at least the Terps have played 17 games against respectable opponents. George Mason has only played six top 100 teams, and it has beaten only Northeastern (91) and Vermont (97).

Even with a slew of mediocre bubble teams, George Mason – after a very respectable season – has not done enough to garner serious at-large consideration.

By Eric Prisbell  |  March 10, 2009; 8:20 AM ET
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