George Mason releases ’19-’20 non-conference schedule

george masonEight home games, a trip to the Cayman Islands and a marquee road matchup at Maryland will highlight the 2019-20 George Mason basketball non-conference schedule.

In addition to Power 5 matchups with the Terrapins and TCU on the road, Mason will play nearly a third of the Division I programs in the greater Maryland, Virginia and D.C. area. That’s a total of eight local matchups, six of which will be contested inside EagleBank Arena.

“We feel we’ve put together a formidable schedule, which includes games with traditional rivals and road trips which will enrich the experience of our student-athletes,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “In addition, it’s important for us to play a series of local teams and showcase the talent which exists in such close proximity to our campus. We will compete against a variety of styles, which will prepare us well for what should be the strongest Atlantic 10 since I’ve been at George Mason.”

The Patriots will open the schedule with five-straight home contests. It’s the most home games to start a campaign for the Green & Gold since 1996-97, when Mason was led by former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Paul Westhead.

Oct. 30 vs. Catholic (ex.)
Mason will tune up for the regular season with an exhibition game against Washington D.C. Division III program Catholic University on Oct. 30. The Cardinals are coached by former Mason assistant coach Aaron Kelly, who returned to his alma mater to lead Catholic this spring. It’s the second-straight season Mason has played an exhibition contest inside EagleBank Arena.

Nov. 5 vs. Navy
The action gets underway on Tuesday, Nov. 5., when the Green & Gold match up with Navy for the second-straight campaign. Mason defeated the Midshipmen, 84-63, last season in Fairfax. The game will serve as Armed Forces Night in Fairfax and kick off the Opening Week of George Mason Basketball.

“From my days at Bucknell regularly playing Army and Navy, I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for the service academies,” Paulsen said. “We are so grateful for the sacrifices the Navy student-athletes make in their commitment to our country. We are looking forward to beginning the season against the Midshipmen.”

Nov. 8 vs. Longwood
To kick off Family Weekend, the Green & Gold will then host Longwood University on Friday, Nov. 8. Longwood is coming off one of the best seasons in the school’s Div. I history. The Lancers won the second-most games in program annals, advanced to the postseason for the first time (CBI) and won a game in that tournament over Southern Miss. The Lancers welcome back top scorers Shabooty Phillips (14.0 ppg) and Jaylon Wilson (11.0 ppg) to the roster in 2019-20.

Nov. 13 vs. Long Island
Next up, Mason takes on Long Island on Nov. 13 in EagleBank Arena. Formerly LIU Brooklyn, the school merged with LIU Post in summer 2019 to become the LIU Sharks. Led by former UMass head coach and Mason assistant Derek Kellogg, LIU has made the NCAA Tournament four times in the past nine seasons (2011-13, 2018). The Sharks return four starters, including Ty Flowers (13.5 ppg) and Jashaun Agosto (10.7 ppg), and should challenge yet again for the NEC title.

Nov. 16 vs. James Madison
From there, the Patriots welcome back longtime rival James Madison for an ol’ CAA skirmish on Saturday, Nov. 16 in Fairfax. Mason has won 22 of the past 24 matchups between the two programs, including a 66-53 triumph last season inside EBA. Juniors Matt Lewis (16.4 ppg) and  Darius Banks (12.3 ppg) will look to lead the Dukes to a successful CAA season in 2019-20.

Nov. 19 vs. Loyola (Md.) – Cayman Classic Opening Round Game
The Green & Gold wrap up the five-game homestand with a contest against Loyola (Md.), the second of three matchups with Patriot League foes during the non-conference slate. The Greyhounds bring back one of the top scorers in the nation in Andrew Kostecka (21.3ppg) and also feature Brent Holcombe (11.0 ppg) and Chuck Champion (10.7 ppg).

Nov. 22 at Maryland
The Patriots face their first road test on Friday, Nov. 22 against what is expected to be one of the top teams in the country. Picked somewhere from No. 5-15 in many preseason top-25 rankings across college basketball, Maryland enters 2019-20 with lofty expectations after being a possession away from the Sweet 16 last season. The Terps return leading scorer Anthony Cowan (15.6 ppg) and Jalen Smith (10.7 ppg) and bring in a highly-touted freshman class this fall.

Nov. 25 vs. Old Dominion, Nov. 26-27 TBA
Mason’s MTE this season will be the Cayman Islands Classic, which will feature a loaded field of quality Power 5 and mid-major opponents. The Patriots open the event against old CAA foe Old Dominion on Monday, Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. Old Dominion is coming off an outstanding 2018-19 campaign in which the Monarchs posted a 26-9 record (13-5 C-USA) and captured the Conference USA Tournament crown. ODU fell to Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Depending on the results of that game, Mason will either play Nebraska or Washington State in the second game on Nov. 26. The final game will pit the Patriots against either Loyola Chicago, New Mexico State, Colorado State or USF on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Dec. 3 vs. Jacksonville State
After two weeks away from NoVA, the Patriots return home to prepare for a visit from Jacksonville State on Dec. 3. The Gamecocks put together a stellar season in 2018-19, going 24-9 while putting together an impressive 15-3 conference record in the OVC. That included wins over Ja Morant’s Murray State Racers, as well as league power Belmont.

Dec. 7 vs. American
The Patriots host DMV foe American for the second-straight season after battling the Eagles during Opening Week in 2018-19. The Eagles welcome back three of their top-4 scorers, including star guard Sa’eed Nelson (19.8 ppg), as well as forward Mark Gasperini (10.3 ppg) and Stacy Beckton, Jr. (10.0 ppg).

Dec. 21 vs. UMBC
After a two-week break for finals, the Patriots host a battle of Cinderella stories when UMBC invades Fairfax on Saturday, Dec. 21. The Retrievers, two seasons removed from becoming the first No. 16 seed to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, will bring a strong squad to Fairfax, which includes senior K.J. Jackson (13.9 ppg). UMBC posted another 20-win season in 2018-19, going 21-13 with an 11-5 record in America East play.

Dec. 30 at TCU
Mason wraps up the non-conference slate with a post-Christmas duel against TCU in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs advanced to the Final Four of the NIT in 2018-19 while posting 23 wins on the year. Top scorer Desmond Bane (15.2 ppg) will lead TCU again this season, while the Horned Frogs also will feature 2019 Mason graduate Jaire Grayer, who will pursue his fifth year in Forth Worth. Grayer, an 1000-point scorer at Mason, ranks in the top-5 in 3-pointers made in school history.

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