Breaking down the brackets with Jai…
That’s right, there’s only one Jai and you know him well.
He’s the man who led the George Mason (GM) Patriots on their unbelievable and unforgettable journey back in 2006 when they quietly turned the NCAA Tournament Brackets into frappe. He’s the man who helped put the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) on the map with the big dogs. He’s also the man who has taken his skills on the road in Israel where he’s currently playing basketball.
He’s our very own Jai Lewis of Aberdeen and he’s talking college basketball with me. So thanks to electronic mail direct from Israel, let’s get down to business. Here’s what Jai has got to say about the upcoming Madness. It’s Jai Time…
- First things first, this year GM is a 12-seed and according to Jai, “I believe we have a great chance of making it out of the first round. I just don’t know how deep they can go into the tourney. Mason has been playing great team defense this year but in some games didn’t come out to play so it will depend on how the team comes out and plays defense to determine how far they will go.”***Notice the “we” in his quote- he’s still a Patriot. Once a Patriot always a Patriot.
- Rewind to 2006 as Jai takes us on a trip down memory lane…It was the upset of the year, without a doubt. The U. Conn. Huskies weren’t supposed to lose. George Mason wasn’t even supposed to be there. Jim Nantz and Billy Packer, the outspoken critics of CBS were harsh regarding GM’s getting a place in the tourney. Later they remarked that this was the best story in tournament history. History it was when GM came from behind, never got rattled and took out the Huskies in overtime. It was a nail-biter of epic proportions, an 86-84 victory for GM- a small commuter college takes out a powerhouse and is headed to the Final Four, the biggest stage of college basketball. This is one of Jai’s favorite memories, his actions on the court spoke louder than anybody’s words. And oh- the memories, he has many “throughout the entire journey we had so much support from the school and our fans.”
- Generally speaking when picking your brackets Jai says, “you got to look at season stats and see how a team is ranked in each stat category, also see how a team has played in there conference tourney. If you can get past the first 2 rounds in your bracket, you can have a successful bracket.”
- Been there, done that…a message from Jai to fellow Marylanders who are looking to make some noise such as Coppin State or Mt. St. Mary’s (only one team will make it in after tonight’s game) and UMBC players: “go in and fight and believe that you are better than your opponent.” Jai knows a thing or two about winning at this level. But when it comes to brackets, he plays to have fun. He wants to see if he can keep up with certain sports reporters…I think he means me. But on the court, that’s a whole other story. Jai’s got game.