After seven long months, it's finally here: the start of the college basketball season.
On Friday night George Mason will tip off their season against the University of Virginia, which will be the first of many tests for the Patriots throughout the season.
Despite the close historical ties between the schools, this will be only the seventh matchup in their histories, and the second one to take place in Mason's home of Fairfax. Va. So far, Virginia has won all seven games between the two schools.
Last season, Mason and UVA met in Charlottesville, where the Cavaliers put a hurting on the Patriots 68-48. Although the game may have been partially affected by cursed jerseys, it still was a painful and mildly embarrassing loss for the Patriots.
Many things have changed since December 6, 2011, however. Both teams are sporting new faces, and as is the case at the start of every new season, hope springs eternal.
Let's take a look at five keys to Friday's game that will help Mason start their season off on the right foot against Virginia.