Mid-majors are often relegated to the lowly play-in games to "earn" their way into the NCAA Tournament, even when their conferences have automatic bids. That's exactly what we will when the James Madison Dukes and the LIU-Brookyln Blackbirds meet on Wednesday; here are a few quick reactions to the matchup.
- Both teams finished fourth in their respective conferences before winning their conference tournaments; JMU defeated the sixth-, second-, and first-seeded teams, while LIU beat the sixth-, second-, and fifth-seeded teams
- LIU-Brooklyn averages 79.5 points per game, the fifth-highest rate in the country. On the other side, James Madison comes in allowing just 64.4 points per game against. One of these will have to give on Wednesday, and seeing as these teams are both coming in riding four- and five-game winning streaks, respectively, it's anybody's guess as to which trend will break. The first ten minutes of the game will be very telling as to what shape the game will take.
- Speaking to the Dukes' defensive sharpness: in all three CAA Tournament games, they held their opponents below their scoring averages, including limiting Delaware's Devon Saddler to seven points and Northeastern's Joel Smith to just six.
- LIU-Brooklyn's C.J. Garner is coming into this matchup on absolute fire. In his three NEC Tournament games, the senior averaged 28.0 points per game on 63.63 percent scoring efficiency, including his first two 30-point games of the season. His potential matchup with JMU's A.J. Davis, who comes into the game averaging 20.6 points per game on 59.05 scoring efficiency, has me drooling already.
- The winner of the contest goes on to face Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, and 1-seed Indiana in Dayton, OH. So it doesn't really matter what happens in this game, because to the victor goes the humiliating loss. But to these two teams, that doesn't matter at all. They just want the chance, and we should all be in for an entertaining game on Wednesday.