Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Saturday’s matchup between the George Mason University Patriots and the Northeastern Huskies may provide a preview of a potential late-round matchup in the upcoming Colonial Athletic Association Tournament as both teams look to stay in the top four of the conference.

Mason has been just 1-4 in the month of February, relinquishing its lead atop the conference while the Huskies remain in a neck-to-neck battle with the Old Dominion Monarchs for first place. After losing to the William & Mary Tribe on Tuesday, Mason dropped to 16-11 overall and 11-5 in the CAA; the Huskies entered Saturday’s ESPN BracketBuster game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with an 18-9 overall record and 13-3 conference record. The game will tip off at noon.

The Patriots are coming off a tough home loss to the Tribe, bringing its 18-game home conference winning streak to a halt and also ending its nine-game home winning streak. Mason has generally dominated at the Patriot Center, winning 25 of the past 26 home games prior to last Tuesday, but the team will have to deal with a tough customer in the Huskies on Saturday in its home finale for the 2010 season.

Last year, Mason defeated the Huskies in its Homecoming game 64-53. Junior guard Cam Long notched his second-career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. But Mason’s star player has struggled lately, being held to below 10 points in the two games prior to Mason’s bout with the College of Charleston Cougars last Saturday.

While Long looks to get back on track, the team will also have to find a way to win in order to earn a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament.

The Huskies had its season cut short last year, falling to the Towson Tigers in a stunning upset during the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament. Northeastern started the 2010 season with a 2-7 record, but since Dec. 25, the Huskies went on an 11-game tear and won its first eight conference games. In addition to sweeping the season series over the defending conference champion VCU Rams in that span, the Huskies walloped the Patriots 71-46 in Boston on Jan. 7.

Guard Chaisson Allen tied a career-high six 3-pointers en route to a game-high 20 points. Allen, Northeastern’s deep threat, leads the team with a 45.8 3-point field goal percentage. The Huskies will be an even bigger threat with its Big Three, composed of Allen, guard Matt Janning and forward Manny Adako.

This season, the Big Three is averaging a combined 13.5 points per game as opposed to 12 points per game last year.