James Madison (11-19) vs. Towson (22-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Baltimore Arena (14,000) -- Baltimore, Maryland. Television: CSN-MA+, NE, CSS. Home Record: JMU 5-5, Towson 15-1. Away Record: JMU 4-12, Towson 7-7. Neutral Record: JMU 2-2, Towson 0-1. Conference Record: JMU 6-10, Towson 13-3. Series Record: James Madison leads, 27-13.
GAME NOTES: Playing in their own backyard, the Towson Tigers take the floor at Baltimore Arena as they clash with the James Madison Dukes in the 32nd annual Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
Seeded second in the event after finishing behind only Delaware in the CAA standings, the Tigers posted 13 wins in 16 CAA opportunities and were tied with the Blue Hens for the best overall record among league teams at 22-9. Unfortunately for Towson, the team has had very little success in this event over the years, posting a record of only 6-11, having never captured the title.
As for the Dukes, one of only two current teams in the league that have brought home the championship previously, they are the seventh seed a year after claiming the crown against Northeastern, 70-57. James Madison, which has three championships to its credit, second only to UNC-Wilmington (four), struggled for much of the year, winning back-to-back decisions only twice in the last two months.
Towson won both meetings during the regular season, an 80-71 final at home in early February and then a 69-66 final on the road three weeks later. With those two decisions, JMU's edge in the all-time series dipped to 27-13.
The winner of this meeting will go up against the survivor of the College of Charleston/William & Mary battle in the semifinals on Sunday for the right to appear in the title tilt on Monday night.
Over the course of 16 conference games, the Dukes have generated 63.0 ppg, which is right in line with what the team did on the campaign overall. Andre Nation led the offense with 15.2 ppg, pacing four players in double figures, but in those league bouts he shot only 7-of-35 behind the 3-point line and 60.5 percent at the charity stripe. Charles Cooke checked in with another 13.5 ppg, leading the way on the glass with 5.5 rpg, but still JMU was beaten on the boards by an average of 2.5 rpg. Ron Curry and Andrey Semenov were responsible for another 11.4 and 10.8 ppg, respectively, but after that the contributions dropped off significantly.
Recognized as one of the top performers in the conference this season, Jerrelle Benimon has logged close to 38 minutes per game versus CAA foes, resulting in 20.1 ppg which is a considerable chunk of the unit's 72.4 ppg. Not only did Benimon make good on 53.3 percent from the floor, he also cleared a staggering 12.6 rpg to help push the program to a 4.8 rpg advantage over the competition. As if all that were not enough, Benimon also led the team in assists with 55, while the rest of the Tigers handed out a combined 74. Coming off the bench in 10 league tests, Rafriel Guthrie still had enough opportunities to generate 12.9 ppg.
With this almost being a home game for the Tigers, they have to be feeling confident given that they were 15-1 in front of the hometown crowd this season and 7-1 in such CAA endeavors. Towson might have to win over some of the fans in the building, but for the most part the customers will be there to see the Tigers advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Towson 74, James Madison 66
03/08 11:37:17 ET