FINAL FOUR PREVIEW: Florida vs. George Mason

After star guard Tony Skinn was suspended for the Patriots first round matchup against Michigan State, everyone wrote off George Mason from the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Patriots were all right with that.

 

What did George Mason do? The Patriots (27-7) won four straight games, including upset wins over powerhouses UConn, North Carolina and Michigan State en route to the Final Four. The Patriots became the second 11-seed ever to reach the Final Four. LSU was the first doing so in 1986.

 

GMU took care of the Spartans in impressive fashion knocking off Tom Izzo's team 75-65 in the first round. Defending national champion North Carolina became the Patriot's second victim falling 65-60 in the round of 32.

 

In the meantime, the Wichita State Shockers were in the process of pulling off some magic of their own advancing to the Sweet 16 with an upset of No. 2 seed Tennessee. George Mason sent the Shockers home beating Wichita State 63-55 advancing to the Elite Eight.

 

Surely the Patriots had run out of gas by the time they reached No. 1 seeded Connecticut. But George Mason managed to hold off the Huskies, even after UConn forced overtime, to advance to the Final Four with an 86-84 victory.

 

All five Patriot starters score in double figures with 6-7, 275-pound senior forward Jai Lewis leading the way with 14 points per game. The above mentioned Skinn scores 12 points per contest followed by sophomore forward Will Thomas (6-7, 220, 11.6), senior guard Lamar Butler (6-2, 170, 11.4) and sophomore forward Folarin Campbell (6-4, 200, 10.2).

 

George Mason is a highly physical team and will apply lost of pressure to the Gators, all the while not possessing a player standing over 6-7.

 

While George Mason was upsetting just about everyone, the Florida Gators (31-6) were doing the opposite taking care of business. The SEC Tournament champions rolled through South Alabama and Wisconsin-Milwaukee before facing their toughest task of the tournament in the Georgetown Hoyas.

 

Georgetown hung tough, but Florida persevered with a 57-53 victory setting up a showdown with No. 1 seed Villanova. The Wildcats had been one of the hottest teams in the land featuring a lethal four-guard rotation, but Nova's luck ran out as Florida routed the top-seed 75-62 to advance to the program's second Final Fur in six seasons.

 

The Gators enter this Final Four as the favorite to clip down the nets in Indianapolis. The Florida is a polar opposite from the Patriots in which they possess lots of height and size and would rather slow it down and beat an opponent in a halfcourt game rather than work in transition.

 

Florida is led by 6-11, 227-pound sophomore center Joakim Noah. Quickly rising up the NBA Draft charts, Noah is a balanced player and can effectively score in the paint or bounce outside and hit a jump shot.

 

Like the Patriots, all five Gator starters score in double digits. Behind Noah, 6-1, 177-pound sophomore guard Taurean Green scores 13.9 per game followed by the 6-8, 185-pound sophomore forward Corey Brewer (12.3). Al Horford, another talented big man for Florida standing 6-9, 242 pounds, scores 11.4 per contest.

 

Probably the most underrated but equally lethal is junior guard Lee Humphrey. The 6-2, 192-pound Humphrey scores just 10.8 points per game, but can hit big shots from the three-point arc at the most critical times in a game.

 

Check back to TigerRag.com for complete breakdowns and preview capsules for George Mason and Florida. Later in the week, TigerRag.com will do the same for the LSU-UCLA matchup.


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