If there are two opponents that George Mason has to show up to, it is first and foremost VCU and then George Washington.
The latter is where the Patriots (9-9, 3-2 A10) will travel to on Wednesday evening against the Colonials (8-10, 1-4).
Also referred to by some as “The Battle of the Georges” or “The Battle of the Orange Line,” the two athletic departments branded the series as the Revolutionary Rivalry.
The #RevRivalry has been relatively one sided since its introduction, both as a whole and in men’s basketball. Winning three out of the four years, George Washington, the athletic department, has dominated the competition. Coming into the 2017-18 academic year, the combined point total is in favor of GW, 52-24. In 2014, the two athletic departments tied, giving the Colonials a 3-0-1 overall record for the Tri-Corner Hat Trophy. For more information on the rivalry itself, click here.
In men’s basketball it is not much different. The Colonials lead the all-time series 18-2 and 8-0 since Mason joined the conference in 2013. In fact, the Colonials are one of four schools that Mason has not beaten in Atlantic 10 competition. Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and Dayton are the remaining three and it is fair to say GW is not like the others.
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For once, the Patriots seem to have a competitive advantage this season. In non-conference play, the two teams have a near identical resume with the Colonials only significant win coming over Princeton. Experience-wise, both teams are relatively on the same-level. On the court George Mason just looks more consistent in all facets of the game.
Some people seem to forget that George Washington is in the rebuild phase too after the debacle with their former coach. Maruice Joseph is in his second year as the head coach and was on the coaching staff for six more seasons. He missed a recruiting class, but managed to hold together a talented team in 2016-17. This was supposed to be the season that GW is feeling it.
Still they are a respectable opponent in the Atlantic 10. For once the conference does not appear to have an obvious weak link. Part of them remaining afloat is senior Yuta Watanabe, second year grad student Patrick Steeves, and grad transfer Bo Zeigler.
The 6-9 guard, Watanabe should be familiar for the Green and Gold faithful. In the last contest against each other, he set a then career-high with 18 points and of course is famously known for his defense (good and bad). Criticize him for what you will, he did make the All-Defensive team in the A10 last season. This year he leads his team in points (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg).
They are a lanky bunch, almost a direct causation for their inconsistencies. A majority of the time they have three players on the court that are 6-8 or higher, remember Watanabe is a guard. Leading the A10 in blocks with 86 (4.78 per game), they will be able to stuff careless shots in the paint.
Honestly it could be a nightmare match-up for the Patriots. More often than not, Dave Paulsen will try to keep a combination of two forwards on the court at all times. In an ideal situation you look for Goanar Mar to go up against Watanabe, but then that leaves at least one guard covering a 6-8 forward. Justin Kier is the save bet just because of how well he is playing, but they could go to Jaire Grayer or Ian Boyd who are slightly bigger.
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A fast start is ideal for the Patriots and that is going to have to be through the hands of Otis Livingston II. In conference play he is averaging 23.6 points, 4.6 assists, and is shooting 50+ from the field and from deep. Their height will be intimidating and the younger players on the roster struggle creating their own shot.
Greg Calixte will also have tough competition going against the grad transfer Zeigler. Just being inserted in the line-up for two games he earned the starting job over Arnaldo Toro. Zeigler is in more for defense (23 blocks, nine steals), Toro comes in for the offense and glass clean-up (7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds).
Here are three things to watch for vs. George Washington:
- A fast start; GW is tall and have intimidating length, Mason cannot let them dictate the Patriot offense
- Fouls; neither team gets the other team to the charity stripe that often. Mason: 16.8 per game, GW: 13.9 per game.
- Three-pointers; Patriots will pack the paint to limit the GW attack, they will be left open from behind the arc.
If the Patriots win it would give them a key 3-0 stretch in a pivotal part of Atlantic 10 play. It would also be their longest win streak on the season. Their next streak of three games are likely to end in three losses.
For those that care about the other sports and the Tri-Corner Hat Trophy, George Washington leads 6-1 in the competition this year.
Otis Livingston II (1,171) 21 points away from Steve Smith for 24th all-time
Jaire Grayer (949) 21 points away from John Wiley for 39th all-time
Jaire Grayer (151) 4 3pt baskets away from Cam Long for 10th all-time
Otis Livingston II (125) 17 3pt baskets away from Patrick Holloway for 12th all-time
Otis Livingston II (295) 2 assists away from Raoul Heinen for 12th all-time
Jaire Grayer (65) 3 blocks behind Michael Sharp for 18th all-time
Otis Livingston II has the 9th best 3pt % (.436), Jaire Grayer is at 15th best (.419).
Prediction: Mason 79, George Washington 65
Prediction Record: 14-4