Monday, March 18, 2013

NEC NCAA outlook: LIU vs JMU

Jamal Olasewere is a lot to handle in the low post. 

If you like mid-major basketball there’s no reason to not be a little excited for the Long Island-James Madison NCAA first round match-up. Ignoring the fact that the winner of this game gets a date with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, and the rest of Indiana, No Huddle will try and help all JMU and LIU fans understand how this game figures to shape up.

Vegas has this game as a pick ‘em, which shows how close many figure this game to be. Both teams finished fourth in their conferences before pulling some upsets in the CAA and NEC tournaments to get an automatic bid.

Long Island started the year with high expectations and have become something of a mid-major dynasty after winning their third straight NEC title. They started slow and had to overcome the loss of 2011-2012 NEC player of the year Julian Boyd to a torn ACL and suspensions to key players for their first two conference games.

Jason Brickman is one of the best point
guards in the country (p/c: NY post).
Even without Boyd, this team is full of talent. Point guard Jason Brickman gets the high powered offense going ( LIU averages 79.5 points per game, fifth in the country) as a great facilitator who protects the ball and has improved his jump shot this past season. Senior shooting guard C.J. Garner can cook. In my opinion Garner, who averaged an absurd 28 points per game in the conference tournament, is the most important player on the team and if he gets going you have no chance of beating the Blackbirds.

The name every JMU fan will soon know is reigning NEC player of the year Jamal Olasewere. Olasewere is as big-time as they come and is the conferences best chance at having a player drafted this summer. Olasewere is at his best with his back to the basket but you have to respect his outside game and is a force rebounding.

The key to beating LIU is slowing down their tempo, which could bode well for James Madison. The Dukes are a solid defensive team and did a tremendous job not only slowing the tempo down against Delaware and Northeastern, but taking their best player out of the game (Devon Saddler for Delaware and Joel Smith for Northeastern).

The Dukes need Rayshawn Goins to win. 
I do think JMU is capable of slowing the game down against LIU but they cannot win without forward Rayshawn Goins, who was just arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct. Goins is the teams leading scorer and his match-up against Olasewere would be fun to watch.

Other names for JMU fans to know: LIU freshman E.J. Reed is a stretch-forward who gives a solid 20 minutes a game. He has a reliable jump shot and is a good rebounder. Guard Brandon Thompson is a good glue guy and forward Kenny Onyechi is a bruiser on the block.

JMU freshman Ron Curry is going to have to be big off the bench. If Devon Moore can do enough to pester Jason Brickman and A.J. Davis/Curry/Andre Nation can keep Garner in the high teens in scoring, no one will be surprised if the Dukes win.

Prediction: Even if Goins plays, I think LIU has too much depth and size for the Dukes. LIU 78, JMU 72.

--Chris Cappella

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