Credit: JMU Athletics Communications
Two more teams will clinch their bids in the NCAA Tournament’s proper field of 64 tonight at UD Arena, and we’re hoping to name at least one of them here. That didn’t happen on Tuesday. Liberty and Middle Tennessee State, we hardly knew ye. Thanks for getting us off to an 0-for-2 start this year and reminding us why this is the greatest sporting event of them all.Congratulations to North Carolina A&T and Saint Mary’s for advancing and – in the Gaels case – earning the chance to do some damage. That’s certainly the last time we pick against Matthew Dellavedova, who was outstanding against the Blue Raiders’ pressure defense. Let’s hope for some better luck tonight.
No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn (20-13, NEC champion) vs. No. 16 James Madison (20-14, CAA champion)
Rayshawn Goins is the headliner in this game for all the wrong reasons. His weekend arrest has clouded the Dukes’ first NCAA appearance in 19 seasons and robs his team of its leading scorer and rebounder for the first half. Goins will be suspended and forced to watch his teammates try to hang in without him.
That spells bad news against a Blackbirds team that is making its second straight trip to the tournament and features a couple of special players in senior forward Jamal Olsaewere and junior guard Jason Brickman. Olsaewere checks in averaging 18.9 points and 8.5 rebounds while Brickman leads the nation in assists at 8.5 per game. That inside-out combination will carry LIU-Brooklyn into a Friday matchup with East Region No. 1 seed Indiana.
The pick – LIU-Brooklyn
No. 13 La Salle (21-9, at-large) vs. No. 13 Boise State (21-10, at-large)
Dominant backcourts highlight this matchup of programs from surprising five-bid conferences. The Explorers are making their first NCAA appearance in 21 years after surviving the resurgent Atlantic 10 while the Broncos earned their first at-large bid in school history thanks to the collective strength of the Mountain West.
Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland check in at 44.8 points per game for La Salle while Anthony Drmic, Derrick Marks and Jeff Elorriaga combine for 43.9 points per game for Boise State. We like Elorriaga to make the difference in this one thanks to his 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, 45.1 percent shooting from 3-point range and 63.4 percent effective field goal percentage. The Broncos’ efficiency will win out over the Explorers’ energy.
The pick – Boise State
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