George Mason just concluded their best season in three years. Reaching the benchmark for a successful college basketball season, the Patriots finished with 20 wins (20-13) for the first time since 2013. This also is the first time ever the team has been at .500 (9-9) as a member of the Atlantic 10 conference. Naturally, Mason Nation would want to know where, not even if, they were to make a postseason tournament.
After all, isn’t the prestige of the Atlantic 10 to make a tournament the reason George Mason left the CAA?
In the 2012-13 season, as a member of the CAA, the Patriots earned a berth to the CBI Tournament with a 19-14 record. Going on to the championship, Mason would end up the 16 team tournament as CBI runner ups.
There is almost no doubt that George Mason will receive a bid to to a postseason tournament, the only question is where they will be playing. Below are the odds to make each postseason tournament:
NCAA Tournament: 0.01%
WHY: Throughout the past season I’ve learned to never speak in absolutes, but George Mason will (99.99% likely) not make the NCAA Tournament. Unless the committee goes rogue with some nostalgia in putting the Patriots in the big dance, do not even hope for it. Mason is 0-5 against top 50 RPI teams, 4-10 against top 100 RPI teams, no where good enough to even be on the way outside looking in.
NIT Tournament: 35%
WHY: Many Mason fans may feel that the Patriots belong in the second best tournament in college basketball. They are the only A10 team to beat a Big Ten opponent in Penn State and also have two wins over the one of the four best teams in the Atlantic 10, Richmond. Twenty wins in this conference as well should be good enough too. However there are some things to consider and this is why they are on the outside looking in.
Mason actually only has 19 wins against Division I teams (one of the wins came against D3 Lebanon Valley). There are no signature wins over a top 50 RPI team as well, which nearly every team in this tournament will have one. If Mason stole a win over VCU in the Quarterfinals of the A10 tournament then Mason would be on the serious bubble. Two conference losses to Saint Louis also killed them, and the loss to Mount St. Mary’s did not help either.
Keep in mind as well, that these tournaments do not want to load these competitions with teams from the same conference. With Rhode Island likely pulling a third bid for the league into the NCAA Tournament, that leaves six A10 teams eligible for the postseason.
St. Bonaventure and Richmond should be locks for the 32 team NIT and perhaps that only allows for one or two other A10 teams. Meaning, George Mason will be competing against George Washington, who they went 0-2 against this year, and Davidson who springboarded in the RPI rankings with their upset over Dayton.
CIT Tournament: 1%
WHY: There is a catch in the CIT, they only allow mid-majors to compete. Ever since their first season they have not considered the Atlantic 10 a mid-major conference since they pull more than one and two NCAA Tournament bids consistently.
Fordham did receive a bid to the CIT in 2016 after several other programs turned down the invite leading to them giving the Rams a spot in the tournament.*
There really is not a chance to make this tournament due to this format, however many consider the A10 a ‘weak’ conference this season. Who knows, what if they forget Mason moved out of the CAA?
CBI Tournament: 92%
WHY: This is where I suspect George Mason will fall. Mason finished at .500 in the seventh/ eighth best conference in the country. Continuing with the logic of the amount of teams in a tournament, probably two A10 teams will make this tournament. Probably George Washington and George Mason, definitely Davidson if they do not make the NIT.
Don’t expect more than two A10 teams.
If Mason were to not make the NIT there is no doubt the CBI will throw the Patriots a bid. Mason was too good to not make it to this tournament this season and with other teams like Towson and UMBC announcing they will not accept bids to the CIT or the CBI then the field is running thin.
With a 103 RPI, mathematically Mason should fall here.
From my understanding as well, the CBI loved having George Mason in their tournament in 2012-13. They would be thrilled to have the Patriots back in the tournament once again. Oh and here they allow Power 5 schools to compete.
There is a chance that the Green and Gold will turn down a CIT or CBI bid. Both tournaments are ‘pay-for-play’ tournaments and in the CBI specifically, teams have to pay $50,000 to host a game. It puts the program and the athletic department in a tough position because that is not an easy decision.
I suspect that Mason would accept a bid to the CBI if given one, considering it would be Dave Pauslen’s first postseason tournament at Mason and a great send off for seniors Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins.
*Editor’s Note: Previous version of this article did not mention Fordham as the only Atlantic 10 team to make the CIT.