The Washington Times - June 24, 2009, 06:04PM

The first college basketball games of the season are still nearly five long months away.

Yeah, it’s no fun to think of it like that.

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But it’s never too early to start thinking about what sort of memorable games will land in the area (and just how to cram as many of them into a single person’s itinerary as possible).

And so here to begin the process of figuring that out … George Mason’s nonconference schedule, filled with dates (but no times) for (mostly) late in 2009:

Nov. 13: Liberty
Nov. 15: Dartmouth
Nov. 19-20, 22: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (with Boston U., Dayton, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas State, Mississippi and Villanova)
Nov. 28: at Tulane

Dec. 2: at George Washington
Dec. 8: Dayton
Dec. 12: Creighton
Dec. 22: VMI
Dec. 30: at Radford

Feb. 20: Bracketbuster (at home)

So that’s good. Really, really good.

Just from a home schedule perspective, there’s a couple solid Big South schools (Liberty and VMI), plus two excellent programs in Dayton and Creighton. Plus there’s the Bracketbuster game, which always has the chance to be a late-season treat.

Also good: The local visit to George Washington, a BB&T Classic-esque game four days early.

It would seem like a good bet that the CAA opener will be that first weekend of December, and obviously the balance of the conference schedule will be played post-New Year’s. And while the dates aren’t established, Mason does know what is coming out of the CAA scheduling deck this year:

Home-and-home

Delaware
Georgia State
Hofstra
James Madison
Northeastern
Old Dominion
UNC Wilmington

Home-only

Virginia Commonwealth
William & Mary

Road-only

Drexel
Towson

Overall, that looks solid – and certainly means there’s a decent chance there will be reason to make a handful of trips across the Legion Bridge this winter to look in on the Patriots.

Patrick Stevens