1. They've Been There. All right, so "experience" is incredibly overrated; after all, the Mason team that made the Final Four run had none of it whatsoever. But having been there is better than not having been there, right? Still on this team from the '06 run is point guard Folarin Campbell (no relation to Jason), and much more important, forward Will Thomas, who is - in my humble opinion - the best player in the conference. If you'll recall, Thomas was the guy who outplayed some kid from UConn named Rudy Gay in the regional final.
2. F— It, I'm Expecting Them to Win. When I wrote these here tidbits about Mason for Deadspin two years ago, I absolutely didn't expect Mason to win their first round game. They were playing Michigan State — who had the likes of Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager and Paul Davis - without their point guard Tony Skinn, who was suspended for punching a player in the man-bits during the CAA tourney. This year, they won the CAA tourney without uppercutting anyone in the balls, they're healthy, on fire, and —- as previously mentioned - experienced. This isn't some bull 15 seed. This is a team that can play with anyone (except UNC. They're good). Especially if that someone is a Big Ten team. Or Notre Dame.
3. Santa Claus Is Some Bull. My favorite Patriot is easily guard Andre Leaward LaVaé Smith, based solely on his name. A 26-year-old undergrad buddy of mine and Dre were in the same NCLC 375 class last semester. NCLC 375 is better known as Hip-Hop Literacies. The topic of discussion one day was "urban myths." Some genius in the class offered up "Christmas" as a myth. The teacher responded with something to the affect of, "Well, Christmas itself isn't a myth, it's real, but I suppose Santa Claus would be considered an urban myth." An eager-to-impress student disagrees: "Well, actually St. Nicholas was a real person who dropped treats down people's chimneys in the Old Country," Dre, for the first time all semester, raises his hand: "Not in my hood!"
The point here is that Andre Leaward LaVaé Smith ain't lookin' for no hand-outs, because in his hood, shit doesn't come free. You have to earn your treats. — Chris Mottram