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  • Chappell Wilson

James Madison University advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 44 years

Friday evening started off with a boom as the tournament took a wild and unexpected twist when Yale stunned Auburn. James Madison knew that they were going to be overlooked going up against a Big Ten team in Wisconsin, but they seemed to be unfazed by the moment as they jumped out to a 10-point lead early in the first half. The athleticism of the Dukes was evidently too much for Wisconsin’s smaller guards, as they took advantage of their speed by effortlessly attacking the basket.

All season long, the Dukes excelled, and their record showed that they wouldn’t be an easy out for any team. James Madison won the Sun Belt Conference championship, finishing their season with only 3 losses and over 30 wins, but for some odd reason they came into the tournament ranked as a twelve seed. The defense of the Dukes was going to need to be tremendous for them to go up against the experienced Badgers, and the defense definitely came to play, holding Wisconsin to only 20 first-half points.

The Dukes went into halftime up by 13, and they truly never skipped a beat in the second half as they finished the game shooting over 40 percent from the field. The Dukes will have Saturday off as they will be seeing the Duke Blue Devils in the round of 32 on Sunday. This type of matchup is exactly what JMU wants, which is an opportunity to defeat a true blue blood, but JMU cannot expect a similar-style game as the Wisconsin one due to the Blue Devils more athletic backcourt. The styles of James Madison and Duke seem to be a perfect combination for an electrifying game and maybe even an instant classic, as both teams move the ball well and everyone can shoot. Both teams will be preparing for this Sunday’s battle, and both sides will have a lot to prove for themselves, even though the reasons will be completely different as the Blue Devils are trying to win their first title without Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Only four hours separate these two universities, but for a lot of reasons, this game might be closer on the scoreboard than the distance between the two schools on Sunday!

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