Monday, March 27, 2006
The George Mason University Patriots of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) defeated the University of Connecticut Huskies today in overtime, 86-84.
GMU becomes the first team from the CAA to reach the Final Four in a NCAA Division I basketball championship, and only the second 11th seed (LSU was the other in 1986). The Huskies were the number one seed in the Washington Region. GMU is also the first true mid-major to reach the Final Four since 1979 with Penn State and Indiana State.
This year held the Patriots’ first NCAA Tournament game victory, where they beat Michigan State (No. 6 seed) and the University of North Carolina (No. 3 seed) in the first two rounds. They defeated Wichita State in the third round, setting up today’s match against UConn.
Although GMU lost to the University of North Carolina – Wilmington in the CAA Championship bid, the NCAA selection committee awarded the team an at-large bid. This drew criticism from sports commentators such as Billy Packer, who felt it was more appropriate to give at-large bids to schools from major conferences, like the Big East, Big 10, or ACC. Packer argued that the tougher schedules during the regular season in those conferences gave more legitimacy to teams in those leagues.