Graham Meyer is a writer, editor, composer, and crossword puzzle constructor based in Chicago. He reviews restaurants for Crain’s Chicago Business and covers classical and new music for Chicago magazine. His music has been performed by Musae and the Princeton Katzenjammers. His puzzles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Sun.


The clock in DC’s Verizon Center counts down to two seconds. Trailing by two points, University of Connecticut guard Denham Brown comes down the court and pulls up at the three-point line. He shoots, and as the ball arcs toward the basket, the buzzer sounds. The ball, still alive on borrowed time, comes down on the rim, then bounces away.

Game over. Connecticut, the nation’s number-one team, exits the 2006 NCAA basketball tournament. George Mason University, nobody’s pick to win anything, heads to the Final Four.

About 20 miles west of the Verizon Center, on George Mason’s main campus in Fairfax, the phones start ringing—and don’t stop. Anxious to tell a Cinderella story, reporters want to know: “What is George Mason University?”

April 1, 2007

A profile of George Mason University, the largest public college in Virginia, a year after its unlikely run to the Final Four.