George Mason will get an early test in 2016-17 as it looks to improve on an 11-21 mark a season ago. As the Patriots look to put last year's struggles behind them, we now know that they will compete in the Gulf Coast Showcase in southwest Florida in November.
This event is entering its fourth season and will feature 12 games over three days from Nov. 21-23 at Germain Arena in Estero. Each team will be guaranteed three games.
Bradley, Hofstra, Houston, Kent State, South Dakota, Vermont and Wofford join George Mason in the eight-team event.
Here are the matchups for day one of the tournament, with the winners and losers to face each other on day two:
11 a.m. ET – Vermont vs. Wofford
1:30 p.m. ET – Hofstra vs. Bradley
5:00 p.m. ET – Kent State vs. South Dakota
7:30 p.m. ET – Houston vs. George Mason
The Patriots start the tournament off against arguably the best team in the field. Houston is coming off of a 22-win season and a third-place finish in the America Athletic Conference last season. The winner of that game will play the winner of Kent State vs. South Dakota on Nov. 22 in another 7:30 p.m. tilt.
The Patriots were a young team that relied on freshmen like Otis Livingston II, Jaire Grayer, DeAndre Abram and others to produce last season. Now that their young core is a year older, this team will be looking to improve next season and this tournament could be the perfect confidence booster for the program.
George Mason will have a chance to pick up a couple of non-conference wins that might help to build its resume for a possible run late in the season. Last season, the Patriots did pick up wins over Ole Miss and Oklahoma State during the Gildan Charleston Classic, however neither team made the NCAA Tournament.
For the Patriots and their fans, they will look to get even better with this young and talented group. An event like this helps coach Dave Paulsen to see where his team is early in the season and what improvements need to be made before they go into Atlantic 10 play later in the year.
Certainly, if George Mason continues to improve, they could have a chance to win this event in late November.
The full tournament bracket is available here.