George Mason, playing its best basketball of the season, will need a top-of-the-line performance tonight at 7 when the Patriots play Old Dominion in the first round of the ECAC-South tournament at the Scope.
Navy, which has won three straight games and is the fifth seed, will play fourth-seeded William and Mary at 9 p.m. Richmond will face East Carolina at 5 in the opening of the tripleheader.
The Midshipmen (12-13, 2-4 in the conference) lost by one point to the Indians this season in Annapolis.
Mason (13-13, 2-6) has lost all five previous meetings with the Monarchs (15-11, 5-4). "Without a doubt, we're going to have to play our best to beat Old Dominion," said Patriots Coach Joe Harrington.
A large part of Mason's recent success has been attributed to freshman forward Carlos Yates, who was named the conference's rookie of the year Tuesday. Yates and the Patriots will have their hands full with ODU's 6-foot-10 center, Mark West, who leads the nation in blocked shots.
Undersized Navy also has a big man to stop--William and Mary's 6-9 Brant Weidner. And guard Keith Cieplicki, the Indians' leading scorer, is capable of domination offensively.
"Our kids feel that if they play well, and play the kind of game they are capable of playing, then they can compete with William and Mary," said Navy Coach Paul Evans.