George Mason squares off against their toughest remaining non-conference opponent: Maryland

George Mason is coming off two, less than stellar performances heading into this Sunday’s BB&T Classic. They are still winners of their last three and now face Maryland, the toughest remaining non-conference opponent on their schedule. A win on Sunday would certainly throw the Patriots into that early at-large, bubble team talk if they don’t stumble later on. However the Patriots are faced with a daunting task of having to defend a potential NBA lottery pick at center, Alex Len and a very good wing scorer, Dez Wells. 


The Terps are a farely deep, balanced team and those two names I just mentioned are only the beginning.  Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard form a back court that has been playing exceptionally well lately. This team averages more than 76 points a game (Mason 59.6 PPG) and according to Kenpom, is the best offensive rebounding team in the country. They just recently beat a pretty good Northwestern team and their only loss was by three to Kentucky during their season opener. In the Northwestern game they were close at halftime before the Terps broke the game wide open early in the second on their first 10 possessions. Considering how poorly George Mason has played in their most recent two second halves, that’s a bit scary to think about.
I’m not trying to be all gloom and doom heading into this one for the Patriots; but after watching a lot of Maryland’s games this season I’ve been very impressed. I’d have a little more faith in the Patriots if they hadn’t been playing so poorly lately. But this game does remind us a bit of the scenario before the New Mexico game where Mason had a pretty poor performance against Mercer and bounced back to take the Lobos to the wire. Will Mason bounce back like they did in the Paradise Jam for this one on Sunday? That will depend on a lot of factors.

Make no mistake, George Mason is fully capable of winning this game, especially if they play like they did against New Mexico. Their defense will have to be on point, which is it has for the most of the season, and force a lot of turnovers. The Terps actually average more of them per game than the Patriots so they have that going for them. Also, Maryland doesn’t force many themselves, being ranked #338 in the country in opposing teams turnover percent according to Kenpom. Granted Mason coughs up a lot of unforced turnovers but this could be a small area they could take advantage in.

Both teams want to run and Mason has to capitalize off turnovers because they will struggle to get the edge on rebounding. Against New Mexico they won the turnover battle and converted many of them into three-pointers. With Vaughn Gray looking good and back in active rotation I suspect the Patriots will letting the three-pointers fly early in this one. Noteworthy stat: last week the Terps let Lafayette go 15-for-32 from behind the three-point line.

The biggest mismatch in this game is the battle in the front court. The Patriots aren’t a bad rebounding team, especially when Erik Copes is on his game, it’s just that Maryland is a lot better and has more size. Outside of 7’1″ Alex Len, freshmen Shaquille Cleare (6’9″ 270) and Charles Mitchell (6’8″ 260) can also hold their own in the middle. What worries me is that Mason’s forwards can’t seem to stay out of foul trouble and guys like Paris Bennett and Marko Gujanicic aren’t great post defenders. Johnny Williams and Jon Arledge can’t get into early foul trouble or else this one could be over quickly. Johnny Williams on the bench for most of the second half on Wednesday night was devastating for Mason.

One last point I’ll make is the free-throw line battle. I’ve been harping all season about how the Patriots don’t get there enough and now they are facing a team that doesn’t yield many opponent trips to the line. Getting some of Maryland’s bigs into foul trouble would go a long way in this one. At some point Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen need to be more assertive in this area, right? If this game does come down to late free-throws though, at least we know the Patriots are no strangers to close games won at the line.

Statistical Comparison:

Explanation of the Four Factors

  • GMU6

    You are so right. Our inside game has to have an impact and be as close to a wash in all things,rebounds,points and blocks. Two things that kill teams such as Mason when they play teams such as Maryland are of course turnovers but I am stuck on second chance or third chance points. It makes good defense and forced shot slection a no brainer. I would also love it if our  smaller players could draw some fouls on their bigs but that means attack the basket. I may be wrong but if we are faced with constant 10 seconds or less on the clock to do something we will be in big trouble. Hope they are a bit quicker into getting into their sets. Wonderful weekend would be a Mason and Redskin win.

  • birdman33

    i agree with everything you have posted about the terps. you mentioned everything about the terps except for the fact that they have 2 snipers on their roster, true frosh seth allen who also is a fine point guard and logan aronhalt who is a pure shooter. the terps can knock down threes also. you also forgot to mention james padgett the other big man starter who goes 6’8 225. who also is a very good offensive rebounder. mason is in big trouble in this game because of their offensive output and couple that with the terps size and speed as a whole. mason will need to score in the 70s possibly 80s and i dont see that happening. unless hewitt somehow pulls out an effective offensive gameplan that involves johhny williams on the post and not shooting 15-18 foot jumpers.

  • gmuhoops

    Yeah I didn’t dive into all the details of maryland’s roster, mainly just wanted to highlight to the main guys that will cause problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Jank/1663980095 Rick Jank

    Northwestern runs a sort of Princeton offense, but they could not find those backdoor routes to the goal, nor could they get anything going from short range.  Their half court offense is much more sophisticated than ours, and got stymied, so we would be wise not to get entrenched in a half court game.  NU had a substantial amount of open shots from 3, but they were ice cold.  Mason’s bigs are not as tall as NU’s but are more athletic and versatile.  If we are going to be a fast paced offense, now would be a good time, and if we can find some hot hands from outside, and especially J2 and his 15 footers to stretch their defense out, we’ll get the points on the board.  Then it will be up to the defense, which is better than NU’s, and NU held Md to 28 points in the first half.  If Copes and others can control space in the defensive paint , our chances improve greatly.  Copes should not be in the game whenever Len sits.  I’m curious if those two have ever played together locally — familiarity seems to favor the underdog.

  • upside2013

    It is important to beat good non confrence teams like Maryland! The CAA is weak and no VCU anymore its time to win the CAA tourney……………(automatic bid)

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.libbymay Laura Libby May

    What was up with Vertrail Vaughns today?  Any clues?