It's been a season of spurts for the George Mason Patriots. A 6-1 start featured wins over Cleveland State, Kansas State and Dayton but was followed by a 4-4 stretch. Four straight CAA wins came next with the Patriots flashing ample evidence of the athleticism and depth that makes them the most talented team in the conference. That string of strong play looked to end during a desultory loss at UNC-Wilmington over the weekend but it may have been a momentary lapse. The Patriots put on their best show yet last night with a 63-51 win over Virginia Commonwealth.
The Rams entered play as the best defensive team in the CAA but couldn't stop GMU during the second half. Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell combined for 11 points during a 20-4 run that erased a VCU lead and put the Patriots in position to stay unbeaten at home. The Colonial's odd scheduling deprives us of a rematch between the two clubs in the regular season but it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine them meeting in the tournament final.
If Mason loses there, they may still be able to make a case for tournament inclusion. VCU is their fourth victim in the RPI's top 65 and their own ranking of 59 can continue to rise. They'll need to step up their play on the road. Five of the final nine, including their bracket buster, will be away and winning them will give their resume some added punch.