Confession time: I haven't followed one iota of D1 college basketball this season. Whether it's a continuation of my fall sports slump, or the fact that my alma mater...err...sucked, I just haven't tuned in. My blase attititude got so bad that I was ready to just call this season a wash and forget the tournament all together. Which is pretty sad, considering I adore March Madness. Then something happened last night that caught my attention and dragged me kicking and screaming from my doldrum. No, not the Big 12 tournament or even the impending end of an era in the Big East tournament. It had nothing to do with a top 25 team or a future NBA draft pick. This was something that took place farther south, the Richmond Coliseum to be exact, at the lowly CAA Conference final.
It's been almost 20 years, but the James Madison Dukes are going back to the big dance.
The Dukes, who last saw their name on a bracket in 1994, battled through an intense semi-final match-up against the Delaware Blue Hens to win their way into the championship game on a pair of free throws by Devon Moore.
Who says free throws aren't important, people?
Thankfully for the Dukes, last night's game wasn't nearly as nail-biting. Even though the Northeastern Huskies erased a 20 point deficit to cut JMU's lead to 8, their comeback would stall out. Guard A.J. Davis's 26 points ensured that the 2013 CAA champ would be represented by the Purple and Gold.
Let's be honest, Head Coach Matt Brady's squad has some big shoes to fill in the tournament. Both CAA champs George Mason and recently-departed member VCU have become tremendous Cinderella success stories. The Patriots made an illustrious run to the Final Four in 2006, while Shaka Smart's Rams went to the Final Four in 2011 and to the Sweet Sixteen last year.
I don't know if this team has that streak of magic in them, but that's what's so great about March. You just never know.
One thing's for sure, though. Come tournament time...this girl will be ready to chant J.M.U.....DUUUUUKKKKEEEESSSS.
Image courtesy of Kathy Kushner, JMU athletics photography.
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