- Look for Chris Wright and Georgetown to suffer more pain tonight against VCU. (Photo: Associated Press)
We have just a few moments before Day 2 (or is it 4?) of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament gets underway, and unlike yesterday, there's a rooting interest for D.C.-area hoops. George Mason makes its tournament debut this afternoon against Villanova, while Georgetown lifts its own curtain later tonight against VCU. Let's do some quick previews, shall we?
They're after the jump.
NCAA East Regional--(8) George Mason (26-6) vs. (9) Villanova (21-11)
Time: 2:10 p.m. Place: Cleveland, Ohio. TV: TNT The Line: Villanova -2
Storyline: George Mason went almost two months without a loss -- between January 8 and March 6 -- but their demolition at the hands of Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA Tournament semifinals was a huge factor in the Selection Committee dropping them in to a tough 8-9 match-up.
Villanova, on the other hand, staggered into the tournament like someone who'd overindulged on St. Patrick's Day. The Wildcats lost 10 of their last 15 games, dating back to a 61-59 setback on January 17 against Connecticut. Their horrible stretch was capped off by a stunning 70-69 loss in the Big East Tournament against going-nowhere South Florida. Will they take advantage of the fresh start offered by a tournament berth?
Key Player--George Mason: Cam Long. The senior leader of the Patriots will have to be more efficient than he was in the CAA Tournament semifinal loss to VCU, when he needed 22 shots (20 field goal attempts and 2 foul shots) to score 20 points in the 79-63 defeat.
Key Player--Villanova: Corey Stokes. If he's knocking down three-pointers, then the Wildcats have at least a puncher's chance against the Patriots.
The Pick: George Mason will get the chance to shock the world on Sunday against Ohio State, while Villanova ends their season with 11 losses in 16 games.
NCAA Southwest Regional--(6) Georgetown (21-10) vs (11) VCU (24-11)
Time: 9:50 p.m. Place: Chicago, Illinois. TV: TNT The Line: Georgetown -6
Storyline: An up-and-down season ended on a downswing for the Hoyas as they lost five of their last six Big East games as well as their senior point guard Chris Wright, who broke his left (non-shooting) hand in a loss to Cincinnati February 23. That injury forced Wright to miss the final two games of the regular season as well as Georgetown's 79-62 loss to Connecticut in the Big East Tournament. However, Wright should be back in action for the Hoyas tonight.
VCU had to sweat out Selection Sunday to see if they were invited to dance, but they proved their worthiness with a 59-46 win over USC in Wednesday night's first round game in Dayton to set up a meeting with the Hoyas.
Key Player--Georgetown: Chris Wright. I'm not sure how much better he makes the team statistically, but I've seen enough of the Hoyas without him to determine that his experience and leadership does make some difference.
Key Player--VCU: Jamie Skeen, the Rams' leading point scorer and rebounder who rounded into a consistent all-around player toward the end of the year. If he gets the better of Julian Vaughn in the low block, an upset could be on the cards.
The Pick: VCU. For the second straight year, Georgetown will go out to a double-digit seed.