As February comes to a close, the world prepares for March Madness.
Every season, college teams fight to earn a spot in the “Big Dance.” The top 68 mens’ teams and top 64 womens’ teams battle in a single elimination tournament for the title of “Best in Basketball.”
JMU’s men’s basketball team is currently 19-12, with an 12-6 conference record. They sit in 3rd place in the CAA standings. The team has one game against conference rival Hofstra remaining, but their hopes of making it to the 2015 tournament look bleak. Barring a strong playoff push and CAA title, resulting in an automatic tournament bid, JMU’s season will come to a close.
JMU’s women’s team is in a much better position to succeed this postseason. They are perched atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 25-3 NCAA record. Their 16-1 CAA record places them three conference wins ahead of second place Drexel.
It has been a successful season for the Dukes so far this season. Before the recent Hofstra loss, the Dukes were riding a 14 game win streak. They have been ranked in US Today’s top 25 poll three times this season, most recently reaching number 21 in the polls. The 21st ranking put JMU in its highest position in the standings since April 1991.
Individual success and achievement have highlighted the already remarkable team success of the Dukes.
Head Coach Kenny Brooks’ efforts as JMU’s head coach have made him the winningest coach in school history. The team’s Feb. 15 win over Delaware was Brooks’ 303rd career victory. He also led the program to its 1,000th win after a January victory against Hofstra.
Junior point guard Angela Mickens, or Muff, as she is affectionately known, has been crucial to the success of the Dukes on the court this season. She is averaging 8.0 points, 7.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per contest this season. The court general ranks fourth in the NCAA in assists per game, and her 196 assists place her second on JMU’s all-time single season assist list. Mickens is among the top 15 finalists for Nancy Lieberman Award, recognizing the best point guard in the NCAA.
Junior guard Precious Hall has been a scoring machine for JMU this season. She leads the team with 23.0 points per game this season. She also contributes 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per contest. This exceptional stat line has helped her receive a nomination for the Naismith Trophy. She is ranked among the top 30 midseason contenders for trophy awarded to the best player in women’s basketball.
According to ESPN’s Charlie Creme, JMU is projected to earn the ninth seed in the NCAA tournament, pitting them against the eighth seed in the first round. Conference tournament play can still dramatically shift these seedings, so a CAA title could put JMU in an even better position come tournament time.
As the month of March rolls around, expect a strong showing from the Dukes as they attempt to conquer the NCAA tournament. The 4th seeded men’s team will open the CAA tournament against fifth seeded Hofstra. The women’s team wraps up the regular season in the Convo Center tonight, Mar. 4 at 7:00 against College of Charleston. Support your Dukes as they wrap up the regular season, and prepare to battle in the basketball postseason.
*Update: JMU’s women’s team won the CAA title and earned the 12th seed in the Greensboro division of the NCAA tournament. They lost to Ohio State 90-80 in the first round. Congratulations on the great season!