Posted: Sunday March 26, 2006 10:24PM; Updated: Monday March 27, 2006 12:37PM
Coach Jim Larranaga and the Patriots made a statement for all the mid-majors in the country.
We caught up with SI.com's Seth Davis -- who is serving as a studio analyst for CBS during the NCAA tournament -- to talk about the NCAA tournament after Sunday night's action.
SI.com: How many brackets in all of America do you think had these teams in the Final Four?
Davis: Well, nobody had George Mason, obviously. I would be surprised if anyone had three of these teams. I think we can expect tournaments like this in the future. We were all kind of speculating, Is it possible that four No. 1 seeds can make it? and now it's the first time in 26 years that all four ones don't make it. This is where the game is at. Obviously you're surprised that George Mason gets there. The other three teams may be unlikely, but they're not long shots. They all have been playing great basketball for a couple of months now. George Mason is obviously a long shot. I just want to know how good Hofstra is. Hofstra has to be like the best team in the country. They beat Mason twice. So I think if Mason wins both games in Indianapolis, they should have to play Hofstra on Tuesday. We'll settle this thing once and for all.
SI.com: So you're saying parity rules college basketball these days?
Davis: Yeah. You can't get a better demonstration of that. I don't know how often it's going to be that no No. 1 seeds get [to the Final Four], but this is truly the character of the game. This is not an anomaly -- this is where college basketball is. And it's so unbelievably entertaining to watch.
Davis: I do like the two SEC teams to get to the final. They're both really playing well. I definitely have to think about it, though. I don't have to make my official pick until right before tip-off on CBS, so I'm going to reserve that right.
SI.com: Where does George Mason over Connecticut rank in all-time tournament upsets?
Davis: I certainly can't think of a bigger one. I think that you could make the case that it was the biggest upset in tournament history because it happened in a regional final. They didn't just beat the one seed, they beat everybody's choice to win the national championship in UConn. And they did it in a regional final as an 11 seed. Now, LSU was an 11 seed in '86, when they beat No. 1 seed Kentucky, but that's still a team from the SEC. This is a team from the Colonial, and you couldn't have come closer to not getting in than these guys. I'll tell you this about George Mason: They play incredible team basketball on both sides of the floor. Their team defense is outstanding. George Mason and Florida really stand out as playing great team basketball. Offensively and defensively, George Mason plays great team basketball and it's really why they are still playing.
SI.com: Is this now officially the Cinderella story?
Davis: The benchmark for this is Indiana State in 1979, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying there is no Larry Bird on this team. So this is even more improbable than that. George Mason really feels like it's representing all the mid-majors who can't get good games, who have to scratch and claw just to get into the tournament and have to play great teams all the way through. I really feel like they're playing for all the small schools out there who never got a chance to do this.