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College Sports: George Mason

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posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 07:42 PM
I have made a comment or two about George Mason's men's basketball team, basically saying they didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this tournament. Now that their run is finally over, I feel not the least bit like gloating, but rather like saying a few words about them.

They were certainly the best Cindarella team I've ever seen in the NCAA Tournament, and I actually watch the women's games, so I'm including those, too. I remember the #11 seeded LSU team that made the Final Four, and there is no way you can compare a frequent powerhouse with a big-name coach (Dale Brown) in a major conference with these kids from George Mason. LSU was seeded 11th because they'd played like crap that year. George Mason was seeded 11th because they're from a minor conference and their legitimacy as a tournament entrant was hotly debated.

Well, all they did was win four games they were not "supposed to" win. The first two were games against teams they "had no prayer" of beating: Michigan State and defending national champion North Carolina. And then, after beating a favored Wichita State team, they won a game which I believe fairly may be compared to the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team's "Miracle On Ice," somehow beating U Conn... a team they simply could not beat. In fact, they heartbreakingly lost their victory at the very end of regulation, then held on by the skin of their teeth to beat U Conn in overtime.

I remember the 1987 MLB postseason, when a Minnesota Twins team which had no business being there got hot, beat the hell out of a very good Detroit team, then won a thriller of a World Series against a superior St. Louis team. I was shocked then, too, but those were pro athletes and the gap between the Twins and their opponents was nothing at all like the one between this George Mason team and the giants they felled.

I'm sure Florida worked their tails off to get ready for this game tonight, and I'm sure their coach hollered at them all week about what had happened to the big teams who'd taken GMU too lightly. But still: Can you imagine how relieved they must have felt NOT to have to play U Conn or North Carolina tonight?

I think we all know it was an impossibly far-fetched dream to hope George Mason would win it all. But I rate their getting to the Final Four as either the greatest feat I have seen in the 30 years I've watched these tourneys, or a close second to Villanova's winning it all in the year Georgetown "couldn't" lose.

In fact, I'll not equivocate. GMU's trip to the Final Four is the greatest team story I've seen in the NCAA Basketball Tourney. And I'll make a confession: When they grabbed that 2-0 lead, I found myself wishing for the impossible. But I'll sure settle for this. What a tremendous story.

This team will never be forgotten.


posted on Apr, 2 2006 @ 11:05 AM
Yes, that was beyond cool. Everybody loves an underdog, and their success was unprecedented. I think most of the country was hoping they'd continue, but that they didn't doesn't take anything away from their achievement.

It's a big reason why I love sports and college sports (and college basketball) in particular.:party-smiley-018:

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