George Mason and Northern Iowa Meet in Bracketbuster Game in Cedar Falls

George Mason Patriots at Northern Iowa Panthers, McLeod Center, Cedar Falls, IA
Saturday, February 19, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: George Mason -3 1/2
Current Line: George Mason -3 1/2
Opening Total: 127 1/2
Current Total: 130 1/2
Money Line: GMU -170 / UNI +150

George Mason and Norhtern Iowa meet in cedar Falls for the first time ever.

This Bracket buster match-up features NCAA tournament Cinderellas from 2006 and 2010. You might remember Gerge Mason making it all the way to the Final Four before losing to eventual National Champion Florida. Last year Northern Iowa upset Kansas in the second round before a narrow loss to Michigan St in the sweet 16. This year George Mason is 22-5 overall and in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 14-2 record. They have a good shot of getting an at large bid even if they don’t win the CAA tournament. The Patriots are number 20 in the RPI and have an SOS rank of 62. Mason has wins over Harvard, Charlotte, George Washington, Liberty, Duquesne, Hofstra, Old Dominion, Drexel, James Madison twice, and VCU. They have won 12 straight games since an early two game losing streak in conference play, including a 71-51 road victory at VCU Tuesday night. The Patriots have losses to NC State, Wofford, Dayton, Hofstra, and Old Dominion. All losses are on the road or at a neutral location.

The Northern Iowa Panthers are 19-9 overall and 10-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference, tied for second in the conference with Indiana St 3 games behind Missouri St and Wichita St. The Panthers will have to win the MVC tournament to get a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Panthers are 76 in the RPI and have an SOS rank of 125. They have wins over Iowa St, TCU, Indiana, New Mexico, Evansville, Wichita St, Creighton, and Missouri St on the year. They won at last place Bradley 80-70 Tuesday night to snap a three game losing streak. Northern Iowa hasn’t been the same since leading rebounder Lucas O’Rear broke is ankle several games ago. He has missed the last 4 games and is out for the season.

These two teams have never played against each other until today. Northern Iowa is 22-9 ATS as an underdog the last 3 seasons.  The Panthers are 24-10 ATS against teams with winning records the last 2 seasons. The Panthers are 24-12 ATS  against teams allowing 64 points or fewer the last 3 seasons. George Mason is 20-5 ATS in all games this season, including 17-3 as a favorite and 8-2 on the road.

George Mason is healthy right now with no injuries. The Patriots are led by guard Cam Long. Long averages 15.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. He leads the team in scoring and steals. Forward Ryan Pearson averages 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the team in rebounds. Luke Hancock averages 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists to lead the team, and 1 steal a game. Mike Morrison leads the team in blocks with 1.1 a game and also averages 5.7 rebounds a game. The top three scorers shoot better than 36% from 3-point range. George mason is outscoring opponents 74-63 on the season. The Pats are shooting 48.1% from the field and 40.1% from 3-point range. Mason opponents are shooting 40.4% from the field. The Patriots shoot 69.1% from the free throw line. GMU averages 35.6 rebounds a game. and has a rebounding margin of +3. The patriots averages 14.8 assists and 11.2 turnovers a game. They force 13.8 turnovers a game on defense. Mason averages 6.9 steals and 3.3 blocks a game.

Northern Iowa is led by guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe who averages 13.9 points to lead the team, 3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists a game to lead the team. Anthony James averages 12.7 points, and 3.4 rebounds a game. Jake Koch averages 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds to lead the team in O’Rears’ absence,  1.9 assists, and  0.9 blocks a game to lead the team. Northern Iowa is outscoring opponents 63-59 on the year. The Panthers are shooting 43.1% from the field and 33.4% from 3-point range. Panther opponents are shooting 44.3% from the field. UNI shoots 75.5% from the free throw line. Northern Iowa averages 30 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of -0.3. The Panthers average 10.5 assists and 9.7 turnovers a game. They force 12 turnovers a game on defense. They average 4.8 steals and 1.6 blocks a game.

George mason is one of the hottest teams in the country, and Northern Iowa has struggled recently. I think Mason rolls in this game.

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