The Patriots (26-6) had won 16 straight entering the game. They’re still a good bet for an at-large bid, though their seeding is going to take a hit. Instead of a 7 or 8, they’ll probably be a 10 or 11. (They were an 11 when they made the Final Four in 2006.)
Random aside: The teams that should be happiest about George Mason’s loss? Any potential 1 seeds. Avoiding George Mason in the second round is a gift.
More worrisome for any bubble team is if Hofstra beats ODU in the other semifinal. That would give the CAA an oustide shot at three bids because ODU and George Mason are the league’s two strongest candidates for at-large bids. Much would depend on how the other conference championship games played out, but don’t rule out the CAA getting three.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.