NCAA tournament 2011: How high can George Mason climb?
One of the more difficult questions to ponder is how high George Mason can climb if it wins out. At the moment, the Patriots, who have won 12 straight games, are roughly an 8/9 seed in the NCAA tournament. I want to compare their profile to that of Tennessee and St. John's, two power conference teams that are in the mix for No. 6 or No. 7 seeds.
Vs. top 50: 2-1
Vs. top 100: 8-4
Best win: Old Dominion (30)
Worst loss: Wofford (158)
Road-neutral court: 9-5
Comment: Look at the recent scores of George Mason games. The Patriots are dominating their opponents. What more can they do?
Vs. top 50: 5-6
Vs. top 100: 9-8
Best win: Georgetown (3)
Worst loss: at Fordham (252)
Road-neutral court: 7-6
Comment: The Red Storm has five wins against top 25 RPI teams. That's impressive and it more than offsets the ghastly loss at Fordham. No one has played a tougher schedule.
Vs. top 50: 6-4
Vs. top 100: 10-7
Best win: vs. Pittsburgh (6)
Worst loss: at Charlotte (193)
Road-neutral court: 6-5
Comment: The Vols have been nothing if not erratic. They have some impressive victories and some questionable losses. They'd had better watch out because they have lost three straight and could slide right out of the field with a few more losses.
This is a tough one. You can only play who is on your conference schedule. And few teams could do a better job than what the Patriots have done the last 12 games. It would be great to see Mason play a top 25 RPI team. It has not played one all season and won't get a chance to until perhaps in the NCAA tournament. And Northern Iowa is 76 in the RPI and won't provide much of a boost Saturday.
So which team would you seed higher? The emerging mid-major that is demolishing everything in its path? Or the erratic high-major team that has a ton of losses but is capable of beating elite teams on its schedule. Tough call and there is no right answer. I'd give a slight edge to St. John's and Tennessee, but that would change, in my view, if Mason wins out.
| February 16, 2011; 9:44 AM ET
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