Anybody paying attention to the goings over at Foggy Bottom last season had to figure the George Washington men's basketball team could become an Atlantic 10 surprise for the 2013-14 campaign.
Even the Colonials faithful must be shocked where the squad finished.
GW finished the regular season tied with Saint Joseph's for third place in the conference. The Colonials will enter next week's A-10 tournament as the No. 3 seed and a virtual lock for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Back in the preseason, the Colonials were projected to finish 10th.
By finishing among the top four teams, GW receives a double-bye into the quarterfinals. Head coach Mike Lonergan's squad will face the winner of No. 6 Massachusetts and No. 11 Rhode Island in the last of four games on Friday's schedule. Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m.
Top seed Saint Louis, No. 2 VCU and fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's also received double byes. The Rams play either No. 7 Richmond or No. 10 Duquesne at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. VCU and GW would meet in Saturday's semifinals should seeds hold.
No. 12 George Mason (11-19, 4-11) will face No. 13 Fordham at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner will face fifth seed Dayton at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Colonials entered the weekend needing a win at Fordham on Saturday and help elsewhere to earn a top 4 seed. Led by Maurice Creek's 24 points and six 3-pointers, GW downed the Rams 70-67 - and then received a double dose of help on Sunday. UMass lost 64-62 at home to conference champion Saint Louis. Saint Joseph's, which lost at George Washington earlier in the week, fell to crosstown rival La Salle 71-63.
GW's 23 victories matches the fourth-highest total in the program's 100-season history. Last season the Colonials finished 13-17, but began building toward this campaign as Lonergan typically started four freshmen including guards Patricio Garino and Joe McDonald.
Led by senior big man Isaiah Armwood an sophomore Kevin Larsen, the Colonials rank second in the A-10 in field goal percentage defense and offensive rebounding this season.
In his first season with the program, Creek led in scoring with 14.6 points per game. GW hopes second-leading scorer Kethan Savage, out since Jan. 18 with a foot fracture, will return during the tournament.