After taking some criticism for not facing some of the state’s top mid-major programs over the past few years, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team is scheduled tol face George Mason as part of the NIT season tipoff, according to an athletic department source.

The game will be played in Blacksburg as part of a four-team pod to decide who advances to the tournament’s semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The two Virginia public schools have faced one another only twice before in basketball and both contests came during the same season. In December 1991, Virginia Tech defeated the Patriots, 76-64, at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, and in February 1992, George Mason won the return game, 54-53, in Fairfax.

This past season, the Patriots finished with a 28-7 record and advanced to the NCAA tourmanent’s second round before losing to No. 1 seed Ohio State. Virginia Tech did not qualify for the NCAA tournament for a fourth-straight year and lost to Wichita State in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg has chafed at criticism in recent years that he’s reluctant to schedule non-conference games with some of the best in-state mid-major programs from Virginia, and the rebukes were only enhanced by this year’s NCAA tournament.

After earning one of the final at-large bids over the Hokies, Virginia Commonwealth made a run to the Final Four. Meanwhile, Richmond advanced to the Sweet 16 and in-state schools Old Dominion and Hampton each won their conference tournaments to earn tournament berths. Including George Mason, a record five teams from the state of Virginia made the NCAA tournament.

The only Virginia school the Hokies faced in 2010-11 was Longwood. Virginia Tech also took on VMI during the 2009-10 campaign. The last time the Hokies went on the road against an in-state foe was 2007, when they played at Old Dominion.

But a match-up with George Mason won’t be the only Washington area flavor on Virginia Tech’s non-conference slate. The Hokies will also be a part of the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center in December, where they’ll take on Temple. Virginia Tech last played in the BB&T Classic in 2006.

Virginia Tech’s early-season schedule next year will also include home games against Kansas State, St. Bonaventure, Eastern Michigan and the Citadel , in addition to a road game as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.