College hoops preview: George Mason

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College hoops preview: George Mason

There is no point in pretending otherwise: from program defections to the loss of several key graduating players, the CAA men's basketball league is not entering the upcoming season with the sexiest of mid-major reputations. Programs hoping to enhance their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes by picking up those much-needed RPI victories in conference could be left holding the NIT bag.

Clearly, Paul Hewitt did the math. In turn, George Mason's coach stacked the Patriots upcoming non-conference schedule with one resume-boosting opportunity after another.

While the Sherrod Wright-Erik Copes led Patriots are expected to remain in the regular season title mix, no CAA team outside of favorite Drexel figures to land serious national preseason attention. Perennial power Old Dominion appears headed for a transition campaign. Delaware has the look of a dark horse candidate, but the program's lack of roundball tradition makes the Blue Hens a wait and see scenario. VCU now calls the Atlantic 10 home.

Obviously, the Patriots must navigate the always-tricky conference waters in winning style, but a strong effort before CAA play tips off could make the conference tournament title not become an all-or-nothing scenario.

The Patriots have two ACC teams on their schedule, starting with the regular season and home opener against Virginia on Nov. 9. An NCAA Tournament team last season, the Tony Bennett coached Cavaliers remain formidable, but may be without starting guard Jontel Evans for the in-state meeting.

On Dec. 2, George Mason faces Maryland at the Verizon Center in the Patriots first matchup against the Terps since 2004.

Mark Turgeon's aggressive recruiting effort has the College Park program headed in the right direction, but uncertainty exists when looking at the transitioning roster. Also potentially helping Mason's cause is the game will be played on what is essentially a neutral court - Maryland fans haven't exactly packed the Verizon Center in recent years.

Other notable foes among the 12 non-conference games -- all scheduled before New Year's -- include Big East program and 2012 NCAA Tournament participant South Florida, Atlantic 10 schools Rhode Island and Richmond, Missouri Valley stalwart Northern Iowa and perennial Patriot League power Bucknell.

The true wild card in the scheduling lot comes with a beachfront view. George Mason will participate in the Paradise Jam on the island of St. Thomas November 16-19.

The three-game stint starts against Mercer. Beating the Atlantic Sun program won't offer much help from the number-crunching perspective, but with a little luck, the Patriots could leave the island with exactly that. New Mexico, another NCAA Tournament team last season, stands as potential semifinal opponent while Connecticut and Wake Forest loom on the other side of the bracket.

In a comparable scenario last season, the Patriots fell to upstart Florida International during the NIT tipoff. Rather than facing Virginia Tech, George Mason met Monmouth followed by Brown and Albany in the consolation round. That's an RPI tradeoff no bracketoligist can embrace.

Home games against Boston University and UMBC round out this season's out-of-conference matchups.

George Mason opens CAA play Jan. 3 against Northeastern then end the regular season March 2 at Delaware. Drexel comes to the Patriot Center on Jan. 31 -- the Patriots only home date in a five-game span -- before George Mason returns the favor with a trip to the City of Brotherly Love on Valentine's Day.

Putting a number on the amount of non-conference wins needed to separate themselves from the at-large pack would just be a guessing game. We can say that simply putting the Mercer, Boston and UMBC contests on the good side of the ledger is not enough.

We can also say that Hewitt's scheduling has given his squad more than a puncher's chance at being in that at-large mix. If the Patriots can deliver a few knockout blows early on and then clean up in the CAA, there's a good chance George Mason will indeed pick up some bracketology attention.

March Madness 2017: When is Selection Sunday?

March Madness 2017: When is Selection Sunday?

March Madness is set to tip-off on March 14 with the 'First Four' In Dayton, but which teams will be playing and where has yet to be determined.

The 2017 NCAA Tournament field will be filled thanks to automatic qualifiers from conference tournaments in the weeks leading up to Selection Sunday.

Selection Sunday is when the remaining at-large teams find out who is in and who is out and how the bracketology plays out. 

That will happen when the NCAA selection committe reveals the 68 team tournament field for the National Championship on Selection Sunday. Here is how to watch:

WHEN IS SELECTION SUNDAY?

Selection Sunday for the 2017 NCAA Tournament takes place on Sunday, March 12th and begins at 6:00 p.m.

WHAT CHANNEL IS SELECTION SUNDAY AND THE BRACKET REVEAL?

On Selection Sunday, the NCAA Selection Committee will reveal the NCAA Tournament Bracket on CBS at 6:00 p.m., following the final of the SEC championship game. 

IS THER A SELECTION SUNDAY LIVE STREAM?

You can watch the Selection Sunday bracketology show on the NCAA.com live stream. 

The NCAA selection committee will select the 36 best at-large teams in the country to join the 32 conference champions. From there the committe seeds all 68 teams to an equal bracket in each region. Once selected, here is the tournament schedule up until the National Championship:

2017 NCAA Tournament Important Dates:

Selection Sunday: March 12
First Four: March 14, 15
First Round: March 16, 17
Second Round: March 18, 19
Sweet 16: March 23, 24
Elite Eight (Regional Championships): March 25, 26
Final Four: April 1
National Championship: April 3

Seth Allen's late 3-pointer lifts Virginia Tech past Clemson

Seth Allen's late 3-pointer lifts Virginia Tech past Clemson

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Seth Allen's 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left to play carried Virginia Tech to a 71-70 victory over Clemson on Tuesday night.

Zach LeDay scored 19 points for the Hokies (19-8, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who also beat the Tigers by a point on Jan. 22. Virginia Tech won for the third time in four games and moved to 14-1 at home this season.

The loss was the latest in series of excruciating defeats for the Tigers (14-13, 4-11), who dropped their fifth game in their past six outings. Clemson is now 3-10 in games decided by six points or less.

Clemson's Marcquise Reed hit a baseline jumper with 21.6 seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 70-68 lead. Out of a timeout, Allen missed a layup with 10 seconds left, and LeDay got the rebound, but the ball was knocked out of his hands and went out of bounds off Clemson.

Virginia Tech then worked the ball to Allen, who buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Allen finished with eight points.

Reed led the Tigers with 18 points.

MORE NCAA HOOPS: Virginia, Maryland continue sliding down in the polls