Show Me My Opponent, 2023-24: George Mason
Patriots are in control
Tennessee invites the George Mason Patriots of Fairfax, VA to town. I have been to Fairfax, VA; I have been to a George Mason basketball game. (Thanks, buddy.) Here are a few things I know.
You are extremely aware that they went to the 2006 Final Four. It is literally everywhere: in the banners, in the ads, on team programs, in framed photographs, on people’s shirts. Everywhere. They have not forgotten and they never will, nor should they. That was a pretty awesome thing!
The students do some sort of chant after a made free throw that ends in “suck on that.” What was it? I don’t know! Despite hearing it 30 times I never fully picked it up. But it was entertaining.
They have some sort of elder statesman that directs their band and he is a delight. Look at this! How delightful.
He goes by the name Doc Nix.
I got hit in the face by a T-shirt. In my defense, I had received multiple texts that night that Jim Harbaugh was returning to Michigan and not going to the Minnesota Vikings. That was a big deal! That’s a huge story, you know. So FORGIVE ME for not realizing they had the T-shirt people out as I got nailed with a 14 MPH fastball between the eyes. Congrats to the guy to my left who got the size S shirt.
Now, the actual basketball analysis: this particular edition of George Mason looks to have come in above expectation. Under first-year HC Tony Skinn, a key piece of that Final Four team, the Patriots are 7-1 with the loss being a toss-up on a neutral court to Charlotte. They have not faced a top-100 KenPom side yet, but they’re probably a good basketball team. Should Tennessee still beat them by double digits? Yes, but this is the first buy game opponent in a while that won’t immediately wilt when Tennessee goes on an 8-0 run.
An actual competitive home basketball game! And here I was, thinking they couldn’t do that anymore. Let’s celebrate.
BELOW THE LINE ($): ok but maybe not THAT competitive please
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