LIU-Brooklyn and James Madison have both had their travails this season, but both ran through their conference tournaments to make the Big Dance, and they'll square off in a First Four game Wednesday night in Dayton. The winner will play Indiana in the Round of 64.
LIU pulled off the three-peat, making them the first team in Northeast Conference History to make three straight NCAA Tournaments. But it wasn't exactly easy. For starters, its coach, Jim Ferry, left for Duquesne after making the tourney last year. Then, in the offseason, four players (including three starters) got into a fight at an off-campus party, earning suspensions. And eight games into the year, 2011-2012 NEC player of the year Julian Boyd suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
But it regrouped in time for the postseason: C.J. Garner tied a career-high with 30 points in the first round of the NEC Tournament, then broke that with 31 points in the championship game against Mount St. Mary's. He's not even their top player, as 6'7 forward Jamal Olasewere scores 18.5 points per game and grabs 8.5 rebounds per game. Jason Brickman, the team's point guard, leads the NCAA in assists with 8.5 per game.
James Madison also had an important player get into an unfortunate off-campus incident. Even more unfortunate, it was Sunday, as leading scorer Rayshawn Goins got into some trouble while celebrating on Selection Sunday. The team said he will not play in the first half of the game.
That could put the Dukes at a serious disadvantage. Like the Blackbirds, James Madison was a 3-seed in their conference tournament, but a 14-point, 13-rebound outing by Goins in the championship game against Northeastern got them a win. The CAA has a history of going deep in the NCAA Tournament between George Mason and VCU, although JMU would need to get into the 64-team field first to do that.
Here's the info on Wednesday night's game:
No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds (20-13, 12-6 NEC, Kenpom ranking 185) vs. No. 16 James Madison Dukes (20-14, 11-7 CAA, Kenpom ranking 179)
Time: 6:40 p.m.
Location: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio
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