Junior Andre Cornelius (45) goes up for two points, leaving his total for this game at nine points. Photo By Peter Flint

With the Patriots’ win against Northern Iowa on Saturday, George Mason University extends its winning streak to 13, the longest active streak in the nation. As of Feb. 20, the Green and Gold were still not ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA; however, they are making a strong case for themselves by beating the Panthers in their BracketBusters game this past weekend.

Many comparisons have been made between the current Mason team and the 2006 team that made a run to the Final Four, although this year’s Patriots want to make their own history. They have already started to do so.

Senior Cam Long currently stands as number 17 on the all-time scoring list for Mason, and is moving up quickly. A few more good games and he could easily break into the top 15. Consistent scoring, as well as increased accuracy from the 3-point line has made Long an integral part of Mason’s lineup, and as this is his last year on the team, he is looking to take the Patriots as far as they can go.

After their win against the VCU Rams last week, the Patriots set a school record for most consecutive wins at twelve. One would think that it could not get any better than that, but when Coastal Carolina lost, ending their own streak, Mason’s streak became the longest in the country. This weekend’s win over Northern Iowa extended their streak even further to 13, setting yet another school record.

Patriot fans could only hope for the streak to continue, and if Mason toughs it out through the rest of the regular season without a loss, they could ride into the CAA tournament on a 15-game streak.

Joe Lunardi predicts Mason as an eighth seed right now in the March Madness brackets, higher than one could have possibly hoped for at the beginning of the season. If all predictions end up coming true, then the first two weeks for the Patriots would go as follows: the Patriots (eighth seed) would play ninth seed Utah State in their first game. If Mason wins this game, they would go on to face the winner of the Ohio State (first seed) vs 16th seed. In all likelihood, Ohio State will win their game, and – assuming the Patriots win – go on to play a Mason in a tough matchup for the Green and Gold.

Although the Patriots seem unstoppable right now, the team realizes that it needs to focus on each game individually and not get too caught up in all of the hype.
When asked about his feelings on the winning streak after the romp of VCU in Richmond, Long stated during a press conference that if the team can “keep fighting, keep planning and preparing for every game, we should be able to get the job done, and keep the streak going.” After Mason’s come-from-behind win over the Panthers on Saturday, Long’s predictions were confirmed.

UNI has some extremely hot 3-point shooters right now, scoring 15 from long range in their matchup with Bradley last week. The first half of the game on Saturday, the Panthers shot a ridiculous 8-12 from deep. This set the Patriots back significantly, but a shift to guard the perimeter more tightly in the second half essentially shut down UNI’s 3-point game.

As Coach Larranaga has said many times in the past, the media frenzies about Mason’s bracket position or its bid are not important. The only thing that a team needs to do is win games. Focusing on the next game seems to be what’s most important to the Patriots and the step-by-step approach is clearly working. As long as the Patriots continue to play with the intensity and concentration they have shown recently, we can expect good things come this post-season.

Mason Rankings
(as of Feb. 20)

RPI: #2o
The Ratings Percentage Index is a combination of a teams’ winning percentage and strength of schedule. RPI is one of the main indicators that analysts and pollsters use when deciding whether a team will get an at-large bid or will be left out of the tournament entirely.

AP Poll: #30
The Associated Press Poll is a national poll conducted and voted on by sports journalists in order to rank the top 25 college basketball teams in the nation.

USA Today
Coaches’ Poll: #26
The USA Today Coaches’ Poll is a poll in which the USA Today Board of Coaches votes on the ranking of the top 25 teams in the country.

Joe Lunardi’s
Bracketology: #8
Bracketology is a mock bracket composed by ESPN college basketball analyst Joe Lunardi, in which he predicts where each team will be seeded in the NCAA tournament.