Here Is JMU’s Path to the CAA Tourney Title
The CAA Basketball Tournament kicks off tomorrow. The excitement is a notch or two below “Frisco level” for JMU fans. Or maybe it’s not and all of you have just done an excellent job of hiding the buzz from us. These things happen when a team fails to reach double digits in wins and are in a position where even a miracle run to the NCAA title would leave them under .500. This probably isn’t helping create any buzz, so let’s just move on.
Our beloved Dukes kick things off tomorrow night against Drexel. That’s right, the Dukes are back playing on Pillow Fight Friday. And they’re playing a Drexel team they split the season series with. Both teams had their moments this year, and the game should actually be competitive. If you haven’t watched JMU much this year, the Dukes play a very slow and deliberate style. They give up only 69.7 points per game. That’s the second best in the league. The reality is that they’re a middle of the pack defensive team (that really misses YoYo’s rim protection) and the low scoring is primarily due to pace of play. Further enforcing the slow pace argument is the fact that JMU scores only 66.2 points per game, despite shooting a respectable .445 from the field.
Drexel is similarly average to below average in most ways. The Dragons do have Rodney Williams though. And he’s a stud. He’s probably not “good enough to carry his team to 4 wins in Charleston” good, but he’s a player. Don’t sleep on JMU’s Jackson Kent though. If you haven’t been watching, Kent has stepped his game up and proven that he can go for 20 plus points on any given night. The game is a toss up, but JMU can win it. Let’s just assume that they will.
OK, so after beating the Dragons in a CAA rock fight, the Dukes would move on to face Charleston on Saturday. Yes, Charleston finished second in the CAA. That’s impressive. But here’s a fun fact. We all know that JMU has struggled in CAA tournament play since its run to the Big Dance back in 2013. In fact, JMU hasn’t won a tourney game since if memory serves. But Charleston has only won 2 CAA games in the entire history of the program!* That’s so bad, we almost want to root for them. Almost. But it seems pretty obvious that JMU will win.
So Charleston goes down and the Dukes move on to face the winner of Northeastern vs. Towson. If we know anything about JMU sports, it’s that the Dukes don’t lose to Northeastern or Towson. Ever. Well, except when they do. But while Towson is an athletically gifted team, JMU managed to beat them earlier and can do it again. Northeastern has struggled with injuries all year and the Dukes split with them too. No reason to think JMU can’t beat them either. Let’s chalk that one up as a W.
And with that, the Dukes would be playing to cut down the nets and go dancing. At that point, it would be a full on Cinderalla story that makes March so mad. Hoops fans everywhere would be eying the CAA in anticipation of a 14-22 squad going dancing. Which is to say that JMU is about to pretty famous. The Dukes would crush no matter who they play.
OK, so this little scenario is unlikely. At best. But it’s March and crazy stuff happens and you shouldn’t ignore the Dukes this weekend. They might lose on Friday, but they might not. It’s been a long season for sure. Jackson Kent and his senior teammates have given their all for the entire season. The results haven’t been what we all wanted, but this team still deserves our support. It’s March and anything can happen.
* Yeah, we know. We just don’t care.