LIU BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS (20-13)
vs. JAMES MADISON DUKES (20-14)
NCAA Tournament - First Round
Tip-off: Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. ET
Line: LIU Brooklyn -1.5, Total: 144
A pair of 16 seeds will lock horns on Wednesday night when LIU Brooklyn and James Madison play an NCAA Tournament "First Four" game with the winner facing Indiana on Friday.
The Northeast Conference champion Blackbirds are making their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, including their third in a row. They have never won a game in this tournament, falling to 0-5 all-time with last season's 89-67 loss to Michigan State. The Dukes are 3-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, but their last win came way back in 1983 and their last appearance was in 1994, a 2-point loss to Florida. LIU Brooklyn enters this contest on a five-game win streak (4-0 ATS), but is just 1-2 SU (0-0 ATS) on a neutral site this season. James Madison has also been perfect in March (4-0 SU and ATS), and is a stellar 6-1 (SU and ATS) on a neutral court this season. But JMU will be short-handed in the first half of this game, as leading scorer and rebounder Rayshawn Goins will sit out the first 20 minutes after a weekend arrest for disorderly conduct and obstructing justice.
Which school will move on to face Indiana in the Round of 64? For the answer, connect to 2013 NCAA Tourney Picks for all the Expert picks throughout the entire tournament. The four StatFox experts begin the NCAA Tournament on quite a roll, going a collective 75% ATS (35-12-1) in the season's final four days and 67% ATS (67-33-2) since March 9, with StatFox Gary going 75% ATS (12-4), StatFox Brian posting a 68% ATS mark (19-9-1), StatFox Dave also at 68% ATS (17-8) and StatFox Scott winning 61% ATS (19-12-1) in those final nine days. Gary has a 68% ATS record (23-11) since Feb. 27 to improve to 56.1% ATS (110-86-4) for the entire college basketball season.
LIU Brooklyn can flat-out score, averaging 79.5 PPG (5th in nation) on 48.4% FG (9th in D-I) this season. So far in March, they have pumped those numbers up to 93.0 PPG on a robust 57.8% FG in four games, shooting over 61% from the floor in each of the past two wins. This team loves to get out on the fast-break and run straight to the rim, but the Blackbirds are also very content to pull up from behind the arc in the half-court set, making 7.4 threes per game on an impressive 38.5% clip (20th in D-I). They are also a quality rebounding team (+1.8 RPG margin) with a solid 1.06 Ast/TO ratio. The problem with LIU is its lack of defense, as this squad allows 76.4 PPG (11th-most in nation) on a 46.8% FG clip (327th in D-I), including 37.3% threes (315th in nation). Large amounts of turnovers are also a result of their style of play, committing 14.4 TOPG, including 40 over the past two contests. The Blackbirds are led by a pair of high-scoring seniors in Jamal Olasewere (18.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG) and C.J. Garner (16.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG) who both make more than 50% of their shots. Olasewere has scored 16.0 PPG in two NCAA Tournament games in his career, but Garner has been the go-to scorer recently with a whopping 28.5 PPG in March. Junior PG Jason Brickman (9.6 PPG) leads the nation with 8.5 APG, posting double-digit assists in three of his past five games. Garner and Brickman both shoot lights-out from behind the arc, knocking down 46% of their three-point attempts.
James Madison will not be able to run up-and-down the court with the Blackbirds, so tempo will obviously be a key here. This team averages just 65.2 PPG on 42.0% FG and 33.3% threes. The Dukes also struggle on the glass with a minus-1.5 RPG margin, but they know how to take care of the basketball with a 1.05 Ast/TO ratio, producing only 11.2 TOPG. JMU had committed less than 12 turnovers for nine straight games before turning the ball over 16 times in their Colonial Tournament championship win over Northeastern. This is a very active defense though, generating 7.9 SPG and 4.5 BPG without fouling very much (17.1 per game). Although the team will miss senior SF Rayshawn Goins (12.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG) for the first half of this contest, the Dukes still have two other seniors who are double-figure scorers with swingman A.J. Davis (12.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG) and SG Devon Moore (11.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.7 RPG). Davis has been on a scoring tear for the past month, averaging a hefty 21.8 PPG in the past eight games and tallying at least 16 points in all eight contests. He dropped 26 points (8-of-13 FG) and seven rebounds in the NCAA-clinching win over Northeastern. Moore, who shoots 49% from the floor and 40% from three-point range, has posted great all-around numbers in the past three contests with 14.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 6.3 APG.