Junior Ryan Pearson (24) drives in and over several Northeastern players to score two at the final home game of the season. Photo by: Jacob McLernon

As the streak continues, the countdown to the CAA tournament is getting closer. The George Mason University Patriots have been the nation’s hottest team for the past month and a half and will enter the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. The Patriots claimed the top seed in the CAA tournament with a win on Thursday night against the Northeastern University Huskies.

One of the biggest reasons that Mason is winning and playing so well together is because they are unselfish. Four of the five starters are averaging double digit points.

Senior guard Cam Long has been the senior leader that the Patriots have relied on all season. With a career high 30-point game at James Madison University and a basketball IQ like no other in the CAA, or even the nation, Long will be the key to the Patriots’ postseason success. Averaging 15 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game, the numbers are not extremely flashy, but Long is a finisher.

Whether it’s shooting the three, driving the lane, finishing around the rim or sharing the ball with his teammates, Long just gets it. He knows how to lead a team by example and has done everything that’s been asked of him.

Junior Ryan Pearson has been a major contributor this year, averaging 14.9 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s won CAA player of the week honors three times this season and a national player of the week award by ESPN analyst Andy Katz. His uncanny style of play looks reckless from the outside, but that’s just his game. He creates his own shot, draws contact and finishes around the rim. Listed at 6’6”, Pearson is an undersized big man but still manages to score in the paint with his aggressive play and passion for the game.

Alongside Pearson, junior Mike Morrison is a strong complement. He is an athletic 6’9” forward who can absolutely soar for rebounds and, most notably, dunks. Morrison, averaging 6.6 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game, has been a threat defensively with 31 blocks on the season. The Patriots have an undersized frontcourt but they make up for it with their physical natures.

The guard play has been sensational this year. Junior Andre Cornelius has been effective from behind the arc and has the speed to drive and provide an offensive spark. He’s averaging 10.1 points per game and is a key to how the offense is run. He can push the pace whenever he needs to and gets the ball to his main playmakers. Sophomore Luke Hancock has been a “sneaky athletic, cagey and deceptive”. But don’t let the adjectives fool you, Hancock is a true athlete. Scoring 11.4 points per game, Hancock is so multi-dimensional, whether it’s scoring, passing, defending, and blocking shots. Both Cornelius and Hancock provide Cam Long with wingmen who can cut to the rim and make plays anywhere on the floor.

With the CAA tournament less than a week away, the Patriots are ready to turn up their intensity another level and prove how talented they really are.

The CAA tournament kicks off Friday with opening round matchups. The Patriots have a first round bye and will play on Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum.

They will play the winner of UNC Wilmington and Georgia State at noon on Sunday.