2011-12 Record: 22-5 (13-2 CAA)
2011-12 RPI:
Player to heckle:
Ryan Pearson, Sr., F (17.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg)
The skinny:
As far as regular season conference games go, it doesn’t get a whole lot bigger than tonight’s “Be My Valentine Special” in Fairfax, Va. The Rams and Patriots are both 13-2 in league play and tied with Drexel for first place. With three CAA games remaining, the league is still up for grabs, but the team that loses tonight will be at a decided disadvantage in the race for No. 1 seed in the CAA Tournament.

Led by first-year and former Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewitt, George Mason has won three straight and eight of nine. VCU, meanwhile, is riding an 11-game win streak and has defeated 19 of its last 21 opponents. The Rams are also still clinging to some semblance of NCAA at-large hopes. This one is a must-have to continue that conversation.

Ryan Pearson isn’t going to make it easy. A 6-foot-6 senior forward, Pearson is a CAA Player of the Year candidate and averaged close to 18 points and nine rebounds a game. He’ll be a tall order for VCU bigs Juvonte Reddic and D.J. Haley. Fellow Mason senior forward Mike Morrison (9.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is also a load inside, while guards Sherrod Wright (9.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Vertrail Vaughns (8.8 ppg, 33 3-point FG) round out a balanced offensive attack.

The Patriots are the highest scoring team in the league at around 70 points per game, but also turn the ball over 15 times a night.

Fast fact: The Rams have won seven of their last 10 meetings with the Patriots, but have dropped their last two at the Patriot Center.