Wednesday night against LIU Brooklyn, James Madison had to know that pace would be what ultimately decides who would advance to play No. 1 Indiana in the Round of 64.
Against the run-and-gun scoring offense of LIU, the Dukes controlled the pace and were efficient on the offensive end of their way to a 68-55 victory in the First Four round of the NCAA tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
JMU played the first half without leading scorer and rebounder Rayshawn Goins, who was suspended after being arrested over the weekend. The Dukes were able to build a a 12-point lead with about four minutes to play in the half, but LIU stormed back with a 13-2 run going into halftime to cut the lead to just one point.
Goins came into the game in the second and was not a major factor offensively with four points, but did grab eight rebounds. A.J. Davis continued the hot shooting from the field that began in the first and finished with 20 points and five rebounds.
James Madison exploited LIU’s weaknesses on the defensive end and was able to hit open shots. That, in turn, stifled LIU’s ability to get out in transition and kickstart its effective full-court, attacking offense.
The Dukes now move on to face Indiana in the Round of 64. James Madison will be at a disadvantage as the 16-seed against Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, and National Player of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo, but they’ll have to keep in mind the Hoosiers’ key weakness. If they can be physical on the interior and push Zeller around, all while keeping him from getting involved, they will be in the best position to keep it close.
But, let’s face it, that’s much easier said than done.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
This post will be updated throughout the night.
Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.
An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
- No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
- An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
- In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
- No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.