Everyone loves covering the major names, but it’s more interesting to cover the mid-major names. In a year of uncertainty in college basketball, the James Madison Dukes have both impressed and disappointed so far this season.
The Dukes have three players averaging above 10 ppg. Fifth year senior Vado Morse leads the way with 12.9 ppg. Redshirt sophomore Terrence Edwards follows with 11.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg. Finally, Takal Molson is averaging 11.1 ppg in his second season at James Madison.
James Madison started the season 9-4 before entering conference play, and a strong beginning to conference play with an away win over a solid Marshall team. But the most impressive performance from this Dukes team was in their loss to Virginia. UVA is a basketball juggernaut, also located in Virginia and at the time the Cavaliers were ranked 3rd in the nation. In a game located at John Paul Jones Arena, nobody expected James Madison to pull off the road win. The Dukes stayed competitive though, with Molson scoring 20 and snagging 6 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to sneak by UVA.
According to CBB Analytics, JMU is among the best rated mid majors among the best mid major conferences. Using the Team Stats Graphs feature and placing some of the more notable Mid-Major conference teams on it, James Madison is the closest to the top right of quadrant II (which is where the highest offensive and defensively rated teams are) excluding Houston.
Conference play has not treated the Dukes well at all. After beating Georgia State and Marshall, James Madison dropped three straight to Texas State, App. State and South Alabama. Along with losses to not very good Valparaiso and Coppin State teams, the Dukes have staggered some bad losses. This is the Dukes first season in the Sun Belt, which is a tougher conference than the CAA. But this team is incredibly experienced with lots of upperclassmen and some transfers, so the transition shouldn’t be that harsh. A .500 record in conference play won’t cut it. It is still early, but defiantly something to monitor.
This James Madison squad is one to have your eyes on as the season progresses. The Dukes will definitely have to acquire an automatic bid to get into the NCAA Tournament, but a conference tournament run is not unlikely. If they do make the NCAA Tournament, the Dukes will be setting themselves up for success in basketball for years to come.