It’s Not Over: Basketball Fever Still High
Posted: April 7, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
There are indicators from all over that the excitement generated by the hugely successful George Mason men’s basketball team hasn’t died down, and that the aftereffects of the Patriots’ remarkable run in the NCAA Tournament continue.
The team recorded yet another benchmark on Tuesday, three days after playing its final game of the season: The Patriots achieved the program’s highest-ever ranking, finishing eighth in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
In the NCAA Tournament, Mason first defeated Michigan State. The Spartans received votes commensurate with 34th in the final poll. Mason then downed North Carolina, which finished the season 14th.
Mason’s next victim was Wichita State, which finished the season at no. 21. Mason’s final tournament victory came over Connecticut. Despite losing to the Patriots, Connecticut still finished the season ranked fourth in the final poll.
Mason’s loss in the Final Four came at the hands of eventual champion and unanimous no. 1, Florida. UCLA, which lost in the title game, was second, while LSU, the other Final Four team, was third. Villanova, was fifth, while Memphis, with the same credentials, was sixth. Duke, which entered the tournament as the no. 1 team in the country before losing to LSU in the Sweet Sixteen, was seventh.
Other effects of the team’s success:
- Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine attended Mason’s Final Four game in Indianapolis and issued a press release before the game, saying: “I want to congratulate the university president, coaches, players, students and alumni of the George Mason University Patriots, who will be playing for an opportunity to advance to the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game on Monday night…. GMU is a shining example of the strength of our intercollegiate programs here in Virginia, and I wish them the greatest success going forward.”
- Before the Final Four game, searches for “George Mason basketball” jumped by 294 percent and into Yahoo.com’s top 500 searches. On Saturday, the day of the Final Four game, “George Mason” was Google’s most-requested search.
- In the past two weeks, the George Mason University Bookstore sold more than 25,000 NCAA-related pieces of clothing and nearly 1,500 hats, and another 8,000 pieces of “general” Mason gear. The bookstore is still selling some Final Four products and filling online orders. According to bookstore manager Jack Smith, “We sold more clothing last week than we did all of last year.” The university receives 10 percent of bookstore sales.
- Area stores that had never sold George Mason University merchandise before began churning out T-shirts by the dozens. Vendors included Modell’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and K-Mart.
- As of Monday, the Center for History and New Media’s Mason Basketball Digital Memory Bank had almost 4,000 visitors since the site went live last week. There were 118 files, including photographs, videos, audio and text files such as e-mails and blog postings; there were also 126 stories, many from students, but also from alumni, faculty members and other people across the country. The site is still active and contributions are still coming in.
- The Fairfax post office has created a special cancellation bearing the Patriots logo that will be available by request at the post office from April 7 through May 7. The design will also be available on a limited edition envelope, called a cachet. Postmaster Carl Karnish expects the cancellation to be popular among collectors.
The Mason postal cancellation available at the Fairfax Post Office.