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Virginia vs. George Mason preview: Patriots open season without Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray

The George Mason Patriots open their 2012-13 men's basketball season against ACC foe Virginia.

Fairfax, Va. -- Good evening from the Patriot Center, where the George Mason Patriots open their 2012-13 men's basketball season against the Virginia Cavaliers of the ACC.

A sellout crowd is expected for this Friday night opener, while the University has set up some sort of student festival outside the building to draw students in extra-early.

Paul Hewitt's Patriots are coming off a 24-9 season in 2011-12, but have lost three of that team's most important players (Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison, and Andre Cornelius) to graduation. On top of that, prospective starting center Erik Copes and backup forward Vaughn Gray will begin serving their three-game suspensions for an undisclosed conduct violation tonight. The pair will also miss Tuesday's game at Bucknell and the next Friday's game against Mercer in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tony Bennett's Cavaliers went 22-10 and made the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12, but the Cavaliers lost their leading scorer and rebounder, Mike Scott, to graduation.

These two teams last met on December 6, 2011 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, and four Cavaliers scored in double figures as Virginia defeated the Patriots, 68-48

Prospective starting lineups for both teams are below.

Virginia

G-Taylor Barnette

G-Joe Harris

G-Justin Anderson

F-Akil Mitchell

F-Mike Tobey

George Mason

G-Bryon Allen

G-Sherrod Wright

F-Anali Okoloji

F-Johnny Williams

F-Jonathan Arledge

Tonight's game tips off at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on MASN. Jim Hunter and former Georgetown coach Craig Esherick will man the mics. To find the radio broadcast for Virginia and George Mason, click on the links provided.