By Natalie Heavren, Staff Writer
With March just around the corner, it’s time for one of the most exciting times of the year: college basketball tournament play. Mason will be hosting St. Bonaventure in one of the games in the opening round.
Teams wrapped up their regular season on Saturday, and tournament play begins for seeds 3-14 on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. The game is played at the campus of the higher ranked team. This is the first conference tournament game Mason has hosted since 2006 when they were still apart of the Colonial Athletic Association.
The top two seeds earn a bye to the second round. Dayton wrapped up a regular season Atlantic-10 Championship Wednesday night when Duquesne fell to Fordham.
The games following the first round will be played in the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond on March 2-4.
In each of the last four seasons the winner of the conference has been one of the top three seeds, and as of Wednesday night, the top three seeds are Dayton, Duquesne, and Fordham. George Mason and George Washington, who won the conference in 2015 and 2016, are right behind them.
Dayton is the clear favorite to win the conference, the only game they lost since Christmas was Saturday against Saint Louis. The Flyers are looking to defend their 2017 Atlantic-10 Tournament win and return to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five years. Dayton will play the winner of Davidson at Richmond at 11 am on Friday, March 2.
Duquesne has lost two of their last five games to Saint Joseph’s and Fordham, both of which were at home. The Dukes will host the winner of Massachusetts at Saint Louis.
Of Fordham’s three conference losses two of which were at Dayton, and while beating a team three times in a season is difficult Fordham’s road to a championship would be much easier if another team could knock off Dayton before Fordham had to play them for a third time. Fordham will take on Rhode Island, a team that won one conference game, on Tuesday night.
Mason has lost five conference games, the least since their time in the Colonial Athletic Association. Three losses have come against to the three teams ranked above them, and the other two were against George Washington. The games to those teams have been close, all having been within ten points, so with a few more plays, this team could be within reach of a championship. The Patriots will host on St. Bonaventure Tuesday.
George Washington is ranked below second for the first time since the 2013-2014 season, however, four of their five losses have come at the hands of Dayton (twice), Duquesne, and Fordham. The fifth loss was an overtime loss at home to Saint Louis, one they avenged a couple of weeks later. This is another team that has a tough road ahead, having lost to all of the teams ranked above them, except for Mason. The Colonials host La Salle Tuesday night.
One of the best parts of tournament season is that anything can happen, you just have to watch it happen.