Georgetown and George Mason will play for the first time ever in basketball tonight at 8 o'clock at GMU's Patriot Center. Although the Hoyas will be heavily favored to win in their first local appearance of the season, the Patriots should easily be Georgetown's toughest opponent so far.

For George Mason, it's a second chance to win a big game against a nationally ranked team at home.

GMU Coach Joe Harrington said yesterday he was disappointed with the small turnout (4,774) for last week's game against No. 17 Maryland, which the Terrapins won, 81-80. But Mason is expecting at least 8,000 and possibly a sellout of 9,500 for the Georgetown game.

The Patriots (2-1) have played well except for a 10-minute stretch in the first half that probably cost them a victory against Maryland.

But Harrington is still trying to get a reading on his group. "It's too early to say," he said. "This team is still being molded."

And it's not just being molded around forward Rob Rose, as some might have figured in the preseason. In fact, George Mason has four players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Brian Miller's 12.7 points per game. Rose and Ricky Wilson are tied with 11.3, and junior college transfer Darrin Mosley is averaging 10 points, even though he did not score in a lopsided victory over Bridgewater.

Two things Mason has been doing effectively are rebounding and blocking shots -- even if two of the opponents have been Central Florida and Division III Bridgewater.

Georgetown, of course, figures to present a much more difficult challenge, but it also should receive a fairly strong challenge.

The Hoyas' trip to Hawaii produced two easy victories, as expected, over NAIA teams Hawaii-Loa (100-51) and Hawaii-Hilo (91-57). After two games, Reggie Williams and David Wingate are averaging 18 points per game, and both are shooting well above 50 percent.

Across the ocean, Georgetown Coach John Thompson started a lineup that included only one true rebounder, 6-foot-11 fifth-year center Ralph Dalton. The other Hoyas starters were Williams, Wingate -- both of whom have played guard -- Michael Jackson and Horace Broadnax.

The Hoyas wouldn't seem to be at any height disadvantage with the same lineup at Mason tonight. Tracy Battle is the Patriots' tallest starter at 6-6.

With or without a big lineup, Harrington said he believes No. 8 Georgetown deserves to be ranked in the top five in the nation.

In another local game tonight, Fairleigh Dickinson will be visiting Maryland at Cole Field House. The Terrapins will be favored to win, but they need to get more offensive production from players other than Len Bias, who is carrying too much of the load with 26.3 points per game.