In case you haven't already taken notice, George Mason is not only the hottest team in the D.C. area right now, but they are starting to get some national attention. The comparisons to the 2005-2006 team that went all the way to the Final Four are starting to circulate, and it won't be long before someone on CBS says "could George Mason be this year's George Mason?"
Currently the Patriots are on a 10-game winning streak, which ties the longest the team has had since head coach Jim Larranaga arrived in Fairfax. They also became the fastest team in school history to reach 20 wins after their victory over UNC-Wilmington Tuesday night (they beat the 2005-2006 team by one week).
They still have work to do, and a lot can happen between now and Selection Sunday, especially in a very tough Colonial Athletic Association. However, here are five things you need to know about these guys
There are no "stars;" there is only a "team"
What's the first thing you ask your buddy about his team that you know nothing about? "Who is their best player?" That's a difficult question if you ask George Mason fans, because what makes this team so great is their balance. They have six guys that can all play at very high level and lead the team in scoring on any given night. Although Ryan Pearson and Cam Long have been getting all the attention, this team has still had six different leading scorers in its 25 games so far. You also might notice that this year's team doesn't have their last names on the back of their jerseys. The players help designed each year's uniform, a choice they made to represent the "13-as-one" team concept.
They are one of the most efficient teams in the country on offense
Right now, the Patriots are shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from the three-point line, which are good for rankings of 15th and 16th nationally, but that only tells half the story. Points per possession is a statistic that more accurately measures a team's offensive efficiently. The Patriots are leading their conference in this category (1.14) and are 23rd in the country at the moment. Just for a reference, powerhouse teams such as Ohio State are currently at 1.21.
If they had to choose a last meal, it would probably be from Chipotle
Not to say I blame them, as Chipotle is my No. 1 seed in places to have lunch during the work week. If you follow any of these guys on Twitter you can't help but notice the number of tweets they express chiming in on getting some Chipotle. It won't be long before other college coaches take notice and start holding pregame meals there. It really makes me miss college and not having to care about what I was eating.
They are humble and want to make their own history
The comparisons to the 2006 Final Four team are bound to happen and these guys know that. But they are eager to make their own history. Here is a quote from an AP article this week:
"Even when I go to my classes, my professors still bring up the Final Four,'' said junior forward Ryan Pearson, "And I'm like, 'I wasn't a part of that. I want to make my own history here.'''
You won't ever hear these guys bragging about how good they are, though you will hear Larranaga boasting about doing well in as many gaudy statistics as they can.
They can also beat you on the dance floor
In August, the team went to Italy and took advantage of an NCAA rule that allows college teams to travel abroad every few years and play foreign teams. After a game against GMV Ghezzano in which they won 108-38, the team received gifts and dinner from their Italian host. We soon learned that the basketball game was actually just a prelude to real action that took place that night. Reserve guard Vertrail Vaughns got into a dance-off with one of the locals.