George Mason Train Keeps Rollin' Along in Challenging CAA

Erik SchultzCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2011

DENVER - MARCH 20:  Head coach Jim Larranaga of the George Mason Patriots reacts during the first round game of the East Regional against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Pepsi Center on March 20, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin on Saturday, the unofficial label of “nation’s hottest team” was turned over to the Texas Longhorns.  Texas has won ten straight in Big 12 play since a Jan. 8 overtime loss at home to Connecticut.

Another team, who also lost their last game the very same day, actually has a longer winning streak—George Mason. 

After a twenty point thrashing of VCU on Tuesday, in Richmond, Mason now holds the nation’s longest streak at 12 straight wins.    

They took over the honor thanks to Coastal Carolina, who lost at home to Gardner-Webb just as Mason was putting the final touches on its win.  Coastal had won 22 straight, including a 15-0 record in Big South play, before losing their first game since November.

The latest win for Mason, now 14-2 in the CAA, is certainly the most impressive—a twenty-point road-win against the second place team in the CAA.  However, this margin of victory has become the norm for Mason during this winning streak.

Over the twelve-game streak, Mason’s average margin of victory is nearly 18 points a game.  During this period, they are shooting just shy of 49 percent overall, while holding opponents to 39 percent.

The streak includes a 62-45 win over Old Dominion—a very viable NCAA at-large candidate.  The Patriots held ODU to a pitiful 27 percent shooting in the game.  It also includes a 19-point win over Hofstra—who is currently tied with ODU at 12-4 in the CAA.

Mason beat Drexel—a top-half CAA team who also beat Louisville—by 24.  They also have two wins over James Madison during the streak.  The first game, a two-point win at JMU, is the only game Mason has not won by double digits during this stretch.

That’s eleven out of twelve games won by 14 points or more—in the CAA.  Teams just don’t do that in this league. 

In a league that consistently produces at least six or seven quality teams each year, winning streaks of this magnitude—and this level of relative ease—never materialize.  Last year’s ODU team—the CAA regular season and tournament champion—had an eight-game winning streak at one point.  The prior year’s league champion, VCU, won seven in a row. 

Both are solid streaks in the CAA—but can’t compete with the current twelve-game run of George Mason.

The streak has taken Mason through most of the conference schedule, as they now only have two more games against CAA teams—Northeastern and Georgia State.  Neither should pose a major threat to the winning streak, but given Coastal Carolina’s loss to Gardner-Webb (3-11 in Big South), they shouldn’t take either lightly.

The biggest threat to the streak comes this weekend, in their Bracket Buster game at Northern Iowa.  UNI will be eager to take down another CAA-leading team at home after beating Old Dominion last year in the same event.  They do not have quite the same firepower as last year’s UNI team, but they should still provide a good test for Mason in a tough non-conference road environment.

If they can make it 13 straight, it should solidify them as an NCAA tournament team, regardless of what happens in the CAA tournament.