George Mason's run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament begins Friday when the Patriots take on No. 9 seed Villanova in a East Region round of 64 matchup. The Patriots will look to advance past the Round of 64 in the NCAA Bracket for the first time since they defined March Madness and went all the way to the Final Four in 2006.
The game will be broadcasted on TNT at 2:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Gus Johnson and Len Elmore will call the game live from Cleveland. The winner will face either No. 1 seed Ohio State or No. 16 seed Texas-San Antonio in the next round. That game will take place 30 minutes following the end of George Mason vs. Villanova.
The two teams are very clearly heading in opposite directions. George Mason won 16 straight games before suffering a defeat to VCU in the CAA Tournament semifinals. Villanova, meanwhile, enters the NCAA Tournament on a five-game losing streak, the first time any team has done that since 1985. On paper, the Wildcats appear to have the upper hand, with a talented trio of guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes combined with big man Mouphtaou Yaroh. George Mason, meanwhile, isn't a big team, but succeeds because it is greater than the sum of its parts. It will be interesting to see which streak holds up in Cleveland.
Prediction: It will be a close one, but we believe George Mason will prevail and move on to face Ohio State.
For more on the Wildcats, head over to The Nova Blog. Full coverage of every March Madness game can be found at our NCAA Tournament hub. Be sure to check out the full March Madness schedule to get primed for Friday's games.