Well, this is new. For the first time in my life as a JMU fan, which spans back to the day I received my acceptance letter in 1995, JMU basketball is receiving votes in the top 25 polls — four in the AP, two in the USA Today/ESPN.
That’s good for 44th overall with the writers and 43rd with the coaches. And that’s what happens when you win nine straight to push your overall record to 15-3 (5-1 in the CAA), I suppose.
But it’s also kind of weird, considering conference foes Old Dominion and George Mason received zero votes despite more impressive bodies of work. ODU has one more loss than JMU and Mason has two, but both are RPI darlings (ODU’s at 31, GMU’s at 49), while the Dukes aren’t quite so much (JMU’s at 62).
And if you are going by RPI, that’s four CAA teams that belong in the NCAA Tournament (Drexel’s at 64). Whether JMU truly deserves to be there will be put to the test this week as they play ODU on Wednesday night and GMU Saturday morning (watch the rare 11 a.m. tip on ESPNU).
It’s a big week for the Dukes, and their fans, who haven’t enjoyed the Big Dance since ’94. To my knowledge, JMU has never been ranked in the top 25 either, but that may change with two big wins. For now, though, just receiving votes is enough.
Update: D1scourse’s bracketology has JMU and ODU as 12 seeds.
(“ESPNJMU” image taken with love from JMU blog The Windbreaker.)