Wichita State Shockers (26-8) vs. George Mason Patriots (25-7).
When: Tonight, 7:27 p.m. ET
Where: Washington, D.C.
1. Desperately Seeking ... Someone. Before the 2000-2001 season, WSU was hard up for a coach. The '90s had not been kind to the Shockers, and Randy Smithson — whose father Gene coached the Shockers back in the day — was ... well, not Division-I material, though his first two years were above .500. His next two were most definitely not, so WSU turned to coaching factory Jacksonville State (?) to pluck away their leader, Mark Turgeon, a Topeka, Kan., native and Kansas product. He was 25-29 in his two head coaching years there. The A.D. must have seen something. His first two years were 9-19 and 15-15 before three straight NIT bids. The A.D. was right.
Now let's hope he stays and doesn't get cherry-picked by a bigger program.
2. Houston, We Have A Chance! Shocker players like their tunes chopped and screwed. Six of this year's players are from Texas — four from Houston proper, one each from Belton and Plano (formerly the heroin capital of the U.S.). The Houstonites are also well spread out - one freshman, one (redshirt) sophomore, one junior transfer, one senior.
3. That Damn Commercial Applies Here. No, not the Applebee's one. But the Shockers have a history of going pro in everything but basketball, save a few USBL and ABA ballers (Jamar Howard with the ABA's San Jose Skyrockets, for one). Before Miller, the Shockers' big man was Troy Mack, now a social worker in Wichita. Jason Perez, a point guard in the 90s (also from Texas originally, San Antonio), was a pro baller with the Kansas Cagerz. Now I think he sells insurance? Cameron Ledford, a little-played senior this year, is headed to medical school. The only current Shocker who didn't transfer (I'm looking at you, Mo Evans) involved in the NBA is Rob Kampman, scouting for the San Antonio Spurs. We're a long way from Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel ... or are we? — Matt McNabb
1. The NFL Is A Big Mystery to Them, Apparently. Members of the team were asked recently to name their favorite NFL team, and inexplicably, almost to a man, the answer came up: San Francisco 49ers. Well, sure, we ... what? A quick check of the Niners' roster shows no George Mason products, so we're stumped.
2. So Liberal, Yet So Conservative. George Mason is ranked by the Princeton Review as the most diverse college in the nation, with 135 countries represented on campus — including the United Arab Emirates. Tempering the excitement of that distinction, however, is the fact that economics professor Walter Williams, a syndicated columnist, is an occasional guest host of the Rush Limbaugh radio show.
3. They Don't Generally Start Trash Talking Until The Second Win. Of course we know that CBS' Billy Packer criticized the NCAA Selection Committee for allowing George Mason into the tournament. After their opening-round NCAA win over Michigan State, coach Jim Larranaga was diplomatic, saying he could unjderstand why Packer would question their inclusion. But after beating North Carolina, Larranaga grew claws. "Ask them (Packer and Jim Nantz) how many times they saw George Mason play this year," Larranaga said. "Definitely not in person. Probably didn't even watch any video on us, so they had no idea going into Selection Sunday what George Mason is all about." — Rick Chandler