Is George Mason This Year’s George Mason?

Is George Mason this year’s George Mason? It was just two years ago that Jim Larranaga’s 12th-seeded Patriots of the Colonial Athletic Association made a run to the Final Four before losing to eventual champ Florida in the national semis.

A nice story, but Cinderellas in the Final Four are about as rare as a snowy day in Miami. Really, outside of the Pac 10, Big 10, Big 12, Big East and SEC — who makes the Final Four?

Marquette (2003) and Louisville (2005) got there, but both were on the verge of leaving Conference USA and joining the Big East.

In 1998, Utah out of the Mountain West Conference lost to Kentucky in the championship game. UMass from the Atlantic 10 advanced to the Final Four in 1996.

But for a real Cinderella, you need to go back-back-back to the Penn Quakers in 1979. That same year, Indiana State and Larry Bird lost to Michigan State and Magic Johnson in the title game.

And for a Cinderella winner how about Texas Western upsetting top-ranked Kentucky in 1966. Don Haskins unheralded Miners knocking off the legendary Adolph Rupp and his top-ranked Wildcats.

Guess I’m just trying to rationalize my picks in this year’s tournament — three 1 seeds (North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA) and a 2 seed (Texas) in the Final Four.

Cinderella, forget about it. I do have a 13 seed (Siena), 12 seed (Western Kentucky), 11 seed (St. Joe’s) and two 10 seeds (Davidson and St. Mary’s) winning in the first round.

And two 6 seeds (USC and Purdue) reaching the Elite Eight. But that’s about it as far as upsets.

The final pick — the North Carolina Tar Heels edge Texas, 83-82, in a thrilling shooting for their fifth national title and second under Roy Williams.

Let the Madness begin.

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