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UW Plays George Mason in Tourney, Team It Should Have Faced in 2006

These two play each other in the Crossover Classic in South Dakota.

Washington and George Mason are basketball teams that have never met, but they should have 15 years ago. 

They were 2006 NCAA East Regional semifinalists in Washington, D.C., hopeful Sweet 16 participants. Yet they passed each other only in the hallways. 

A Brandon Roy-led Husky team reluctantly went home after suffering a 98-92 overtime loss to Connecticut, doing all it could except upend the Big East powerhouse.

Two nights later, George Mason's Patriots pulled off the impossible, toppling the same UConn team 86-84 in overtime and becoming an unlikely Final Four entrant in Indianapolis.

UW followers always insisted that Roy, a consensus All-American selection and budding NBA lottery pick, and his teammates could have beat George Mason and made it to Indy with just another break or two.

On Monday night, these teams finally find themselves on the floor together, as opponents in the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, near the confluence of the South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa state lines. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. PT, with ESPN+ broadcasting the action. It's the first of three games in as many nights for all participants.

After 15 years, George Mason (4-1) still is a fairly competitive basketball team in the Atlantic 10 Conference, having beaten 20th-ranked Maryland 71-66 already this season in a non-league encounter. 

Not so the Huskies (2-2), who are still trying to distance themselves from rock bottom, which was a 5-21 showing last winter with nearly a whole different cast of scholarship players.

Holdover Hopkins basketballers will note something readily familiar about these Patriots, who are based out of Fairfax, Virginia.

George Mason's second-leading scorer is D'Shawn Schwartz, a 6-foot-7 forward and a transfer who played the previous four seasons for Colorado, starting 99 games for the Buffaloes, many of them against the UW. 

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Now averaging 15.4 points per game, Schwartz led his team past Maryland with a 24-point, 9-rebound and 3-steal outing. He's one of four double-figure scorers in the starting lineup.

Meantime, the Huskies are a little better than last season's basketball disaster, but they'll likely have to be a lot more successful to keep five-year coach Mike Hopkins in his job.

For now, Hopkins sends a smallish lineup onto the floor, one that has trouble shooting, not an ideal combination for success. The Huskies connect on just 33 percent of their shots from the field, 24.1 from 3-point range.

To its credit, this revamped UW team plays hard at all times and gets into an effective full-court, turnover-causing press on command.

Terrell Brown Jr., a graduate student and 6-foot guard who previously played for Arizona and Seattle U, tops the Huskies in scoring at 20.8 points per game, dropping 30 on Wyoming in his most recent outing.

Key to the UW competing at a higher level this season will be its ability to get McDonald's All-American Jackson Grant, a 6-foot-10 freshman forward from Olympia, Washington, ready to play as a collegian. Hopkins' team won't be competitive in the long run unless it finds an inside offensive presence, especially with such poor perimeter shooters. 

Once the Huskies and George Mason finally settle things on the court, Hopkins' team will face South Dakota State (4-1) on Tuesday night at 6 and Steve Alford-coached Nevada (1-3) on Wednesday afternoon at 4, with all games shown on the ESPN+ network.

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