All that Glitters is Green and Gold
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY - 86
CONNECTICUT - 84
Next stop: Indianapolis - GMU vs. Florida.
From The Crabby Critic: To say that I am delerious would be an understatement. My alma mater, George Mason University, that until this month was just a big commuter school in suburban Virginia, is going to the FINAL F*CKING FOUR!!!!
The slipper fits. David slaughters Goliaths. Insert your own analogy/cliche here.
And if there is a God, he/she certainly has a sense of humor: Billy "Dumb" Packer and Jim "Dumber" Nantz, the two Brokeback CBS sports commentators who earlier this month criticized GMU's invitation to the NCAA tournament as "undeserving," will be commentating Saturday's GMU vs. Florida game. And then there's this guy, Gregg "Dumbass" Doyel, a CBS Sportsline commentator who wrote, and I quote: "George Mason can't beat UConn. Not on Sunday at the Verizon Center for the region title. Not on Halloween in an empty gym. Not tomorrow at the playground. Not ever. Connecticut is too big-fast-strong-deep for George
Uhh, huh huh, uh, you were saying, Doyel baby? Dude, what the hell is wrong with CBS? Viacom needs to get their head out of the sand. Wake up and smell the coffee. We just opened up a can of whoop ass on ya'll!
A Roundup of today's GMU b-ball coverage:
The Washington Post: Jai Lewis hung the shreds of what remained of the basketball net
around his thick neck. Lamar Butler, flashing a smile as wide as he is
tall, tucked the string he had clipped from the net under the bill of
his cap. Coach Jim Larranaga, 56, shimmied into a freshly printed
T-shirt emblazoned with "Washington, D.C. Regional Champions," while
delirious George Mason fans, their voices raw from screaming, snapped
photos of the wild celebration with digital cameras and cellphones. All
of the detritus, no doubt, will be preserved for decades to come as
mementos of the greatest day of their lives: The day the school in
Fairfax pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college basketball
history by toppling top-seeded Connecticut, a two-time national
champion, to earn a trip to the NCAA men's basketball tournament's
Michael Wilbon: "...Yesterday, the Patriots shocked the world. Maybe -- okay, probably -- this is the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history. ...The details of the game will fade over time, except perhaps Denham
Brown's shot bouncing three times on the left side of the rim before
falling to force overtime (at which point everybody in the building not
sitting on the George Mason bench thought Connecticut would win). But
the outcome, the feeling in the arena, the realization that George
Mason -- for cryin' out loud -- had reached the Final Four is
everlasting. To think Larranaga had walked around earlier in the
day humming the theme from Mission: Impossible. To think, in an
attempt to keep his players laughing and loose, he said to them: 'Do
you know what CAA stands for? It stands for Connecticut Assassins
Association . . . should you choose to accept this assignment.'" The Broadside: (Back from their drunken escapades in Cancun or wherever the hell they've been during what was only the biggest story in Mason history): "Livin’ on a Prayer”: Mason Stuns Connecticut, 86-84 in Overtime. Indianapolis, site of this year’s Final Four and college
basketball’s national championship game, sits smack-dab in the middle
of Indiana, some 600 miles from Fairfax. For the George Mason
University men’s basketball team, the distance is but a small
annoyance, for Indianapolis means just one thing to the Patriots: they
get to keep playing basketball. Mason continued its improbable run through the NCAA
Tournament on Sunday, defeating the top-seeded University of
Connecticut 86-84 in overtime to secure the school’s first-ever berth
in the Final Four.
Reuters - George Mason pulled off one of the
most stunning upsets in NCAA tournament history by beating
top-seeded Connecticut 86-84 in overtime Sunday to win the
Washington Regional and advance to the Final Four.
USA TODAY: Cinderella men dance on. George Mason University, the
outside-the-Beltway outsider turned belle of the ball, is going to the
Final Four. And at this point, four wins into what could become the
most incredible run in NCAA men's basketball tournament history, it's
clear the Patriots can win it. (includes embarrasing sidebar interview with point guard Tony Skinn admitting he has no "no clue who George Mason was.")
CBS.com - George Mason, the suburban commuter school from Fairfax, Va., beat top-seeded Connecticut
86-84 in overtime Sunday in the Washington Regional final, ending the
stranglehold that big-time programs have enjoyed for 27 years in
college basketball's biggest showcase.
Story of the day
Associated Press -- The Final Four has been dominated by college
basketball's big boys for more than a quarter of a century, with
powerful teams and tournament-tested conferences gathering at the end
of the season to sort out the champion.
Well, this year will be a little different.
main culprit is George Mason, a commuter school in suburban Virginia
that never had won a single game in the NCAA tournament until two weeks
Also headed to the national semifinals next weekend in
Indianapolis: LSU, Florida and UCLA. Like George Mason, LSU and Florida
never have won an NCAA title; UCLA dominated college basketball by
winning 10 in the 1960s and 1970s, but had fallen on harder times of
Seeded 11th in their quarter of the field, George Mason is the first
team since 1986 to be slated that low and reach the Final Four. And
they're the biggest outsider — no basketball tradition to speak of, not
a member of a major conference, no superstar player — since Ivy League
school Penn made it in 1979.
How did they do it? With a string
of consistent, defensive-minded performances, the latest an 86-84
overtime victory over top-seeded Connecticut in the Washington Regional
"We don't mind being the Cinderella," George Mason guard Tony Skinn said.
there was more than one pair of glass slippers lying around. This is
the first time since 1980 that none of the four teams seeded No. 1
reached the Final Four.
George Mason now faces No. 4-seeded
Florida, which knocked off another No. 1 seed, Villanova, 75-62 in the
Minneapolis Regional final.
In next Saturday's other Final Four
game, No. 4-seeded LSU will play No. 2-seeded UCLA. Led by gregarious
and 310-pound Glen "Big Baby" Davis, LSU won the Oakland Regional final
by beating No. 2 seed Texas 70-60 in overtime Saturday. UCLA defeated
No. 1 seed Memphis 50-45 at the Atlanta Regional.
have predicted what we've seen — not just this afternoon, but this
whole tournament," NCAA selection committee chairman Craig Littlepage
said on the court after George Mason cut the nets down to celebrate.
"It's affirmation that this is a great game."
As anyone who's
ever participated in an NCAA pool at the office knows, there always are
upsets at this event. Hence the term, "March Madness."
But it's been quite awhile since there were this many surprises.
last time no No. 1 made the tournament's showcase was also the last
year neither the Big East nor the Atlantic Coast Conference had at
least one Final Four team; those high-profile leagues combined to
produce the past five national champions, including the ACC's North
Carolina last year, and the Big East's Connecticut in 2004.
George Mason eliminated both of those schools, despite having relatively smaller players not thought of as NBA prospects.
don't measure heart by inches, they don't measure courage, they don't
measure basketball instinct and intelligence," said Connecticut coach
Jim Calhoun, whose team has three or four players probably headed to
The Patriots, he added, "are not on a magic carpet
ride because there's any myth there. They are good. They are really,
Perhaps, but George Mason's basketball program is
certainly unheralded: The team never has been ranked in The Associated
Press poll, and it lost two of its last four games before the NCAA
Its players are unheralded. Asked this weekend who
recruited him out of high school, forward Will Thomas joked: "George
Mason, George Mason, George Mason. I'm glad I chose George Mason."
conference is unheralded, too. It had been 20 years since the Colonial
Athletic Association received two invitations to the NCAA tournament,
and some Connecticut players weren't able to name which league the
Patriots play in.
All of the above are among the reasons that
some, including CBS basketball analyst Billy Packer, questioned whether
George Mason deserved to go to the tournament at all. The considerable
Mason cheering section at Sunday's game — played about 20 miles from
the school's Fairfax, Va., campus — broke into taunting chants of
"Bill-y! Pack-er!" before and after the game, even though he wasn't
When Lamar Butler hit a 3-pointer to give George
Mason only its second lead of the game, at 52-51 about halfway through
the second half, Connecticut called a timeout. While Patriots coach Jim
Larranaga stood with his arms crossed, smiling, Butler and a couple of
teammates looked up at the scoreboard, mouths open.
Perhaps they were wondering, "Can this really be happening?"
It sure was.
The Scene setter
Fans swarm George Mason
Underdogs secure Final Four spot
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
FAIRFAX, Va. - No burning mattresses, no bonfires. Just unrestrained jubilation after George Mason advanced to the Final Four.
After George Mason's 86-84 overtime victory over top-seeded
Connecticut on Sunday, more than 7,000 students stormed what is
normally a sleepy campus on weekends for a pep rally at what is
essentially a commuter school.
"I didn't even know they had a basketball team," said freshman Mar'esha "Dumbass" Farrish of Hopewell, Va.
One of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, the scene at
the Patriot Center pep rally reflected that diversity. Coeds wearing
Muslim head scarves cheered raucously alongside face-painted frat boys
when coach Jim Larranaga and the squad entered the arena a little
before 8 p.m.
The players were taken aback when they walked on the court and were greeted with a nearly full arena and a deafening roar.
"Man, we never even had this many people here for a basketball game," senior guard Tony Skinn said.
Did he resent any of the fans hopping on the bandwagon as the team progressed through the tournament?
"No, I'm cool with it. I'm cool with it," he said, pumping his fist.
Indeed, the team averages a little more than 4,000 fans for home games, leaving it to play in front of mostly empty arenas.
Senior Jason "Dumbass" Obenschain, who dyed his hair green, admitted that he
had never been to a game before and only became interested in the
tournament over spring break when some friends clued him in.
"It's really weird to see all this," Obenschain said.
Before the pep rally, nearly 2,000 students watched the game in the
student union, and nearly all admitted they were pessimistic about
Mason's chances when Connecticut forced the game into overtime with a
When Mason finally secured the win, "all hell broke loose," said
junior Christina Bahrami from Fairfax. Students drove through campus,
leaning out windows and exchanging high-fives with pedestrians.
"This has been the most unifying thing on campus that I've seen,"
said senior Casey Langdon, who wore a shirt with "Mason is Kryptonite"
written on the back, paraphrasing the nationally televised pregame pep
talk Larranaga gave his players before they defeated defending champion
North Carolina in the second round.
People kept swarming into the Patriot Center after the victory. A
crowd of about 2,000 was expected, and arena officials eventually had
to open up the entire building to accommodate the crowd.
Jerry Tuben, a 1986 alumnus who lives near the campus, said he was surprised to see such a large crowd.
"The home games even lately haven't been selling out," he said. "Hopefully this will carry over and start something big."
The excitement over Mason's run is already having an impact, said Mason's director of admissions, Andrew Flagel.
"The phone is ringing off the hook," he said.
The 11th-seeded Patriots matched the 1986 LSU team as the lowest
seed to reach the Final Four. They are the first team from a mid-major
conference to get there since Penn of the Ivy League and Indiana State
of the Missouri Valley in 1979.
Before knocking off Connecticut, George Mason beat No. 6 Michigan
State 75-65, No. 3 North Carolina 65-60 and No. 7 Wichita State 63-55.