Can James Madison reverse the NCAA fortunes of the tourney's 16-seeds?
By CORY McCARTNEY FS Carolinas
Record: 20-14, 11-7 CAA
Seed: 16-seed in East Region
Coach: Matt Brady, fifth season, first NCAA tournament appearance
Last NCAA tournament appearance: Lost to Florida in first round (1994)
Notable wins: None
Rayshawn Goins, the Dukes’ top scorer at 12.7 points per game, has been suspended for the first half of the play-in game against LIU Brooklyn, after he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice. That puts even more pressure in the first half on guard A.J. Davis – along with his cousin Devon Moore, who is averaging 11.6 ppg -- if James Madison is going to earn its first tourney win since 1983 and earn a date with No. 1 seed Indiana. Davis, a 25-year-old transfer from Wyoming, is second on the team at 12.7 ppg but over the last 10 has dropped in 20.5 per.
The Blackbirds are one of the nation’s highest-scoring teams, averaging 79.5 per game, which ranks fifth in Division I, so without Goins on the floor early, it may be tough for the Dukes to keep up. But if they can stay close minus their top scoring threat -- and their rebounding leader at 7.4 a game -- he could provide a major lift once he’s made available after halftime and allow James Madison to slow the pace. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound wing has nine double-doubles on the season, including 14 points and 13 rebounds in the CAA title game, though he was shaky down the stretch with six points or less in four of the last six overall.
As previously stated, LIU Brooklyn scores at a breakneck pace and it does it behind a veteran core. Jamal Olasewere, a 6-7, 225-pound forward, was the NEC Player of the Year after averaging 18.9 points and 8. 5 rebounds and the Blackbirds have another capable big in 6-7, 230-pound forward Julian Boyd, along with guards C.J. Garner (16.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per) and Jason Brickman, who leads the nation with 8.5 assists per game and has committed just 131 turnovers. If the Dukes allow this group to set the tone early, it could turn into a long night for James Madison.
Did You Know
The Dukes are the first team other than
VCU, Old Dominion, George Mason or North Carolina-Wilmington to represent the CAA as conference champs in this tourney since Richmond in 1998.