James Madison completes classic 12-5 NCAA tournament upset


Trendy first-round upset picks dont always wilt on the NCAA tournament stage.

Sometimes they deliver performances that suggest they’re capable of toppling more than one highly seeded power-conference team.

That’s exactly what James Madison did Friday night in Brooklyn with its 72-61 first-round victory over fifth-seeded Wisconsin. The 12th-seeded Dukes stormed to a double-digit lead in the first half’s opening eight minutes and withstood every counterpunch, gaining confidence with every dagger 3-pointer and every key defensive stop.

The closest Wisconsin came to putting real second-half game pressure on James Madison was a Max Klesmit wide-open driving layup attempt that hung tantalizingly on the rim but did not fall. Noah Freidel then banged a transition 3-pointer, a five-point swing in a matter of seconds that extended the Dukes’ lead to nine with less than eight minutes to play.

By outclassing a Wisconsin team that reached the Big Ten tournament title game less than a week ago, James Madison validated what already was a breakthrough season for its program under fourth-year coach Mark Byington.

James Madison started the season by outlasting Michigan State in East Lansing for its first win over a Top 25 opponent in more than three decades. The Dukes briefly cracked the AP Top 25 themselves in December and only lost three games all season, piling up a gaudy 31-3 record entering NCAA tournament play.

“We’ve been waiting to get here to show how hard we can play,” junior Terrance Edwards told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson after Friday’s win. “We really some dawgs from 1 to 13, walk-ons, everybody. We just showed the world today.”

Mar 22, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; James Madison Dukes guard Noah Freidel (1) reacts against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsMar 22, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; James Madison Dukes guard Noah Freidel (1) reacts against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 22, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; James Madison Dukes guard Noah Freidel (1) reacts against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

While No. 12 seeds have toppled No. 5 seeds more than 50 times since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, James Madison is the first to do it this year. Gonzaga blew away popular upset pick McNeese State on Thursday and San Diego State held off UAB on Friday afternoon.



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