Bracket Prediction: What Seed Will JMU Receive in the NCAA Tournament?

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

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JMU men’s basketball punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament in emphatic fashion, beating Arkansas State by 20 in the conference championship game.

Now, the Dukes wait. JMU will learn its NCAA Tournament draw on Sunday evening, during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. Regardless of who JMU draws, head coach Mark Byington expects his team to be ready for the challenge.

“We won’t be scared,” Byington said after beating Arkansas State. “We’ll play very aggressive, and we’ll play hard, and we’ll compete. We don’t know any better.”

While hardly a science, we’ve gathered some “bracketology” predictions to help paint a better picture of JMU’s possible NCAA Tournament draw.

Likely seeding

Arguably the two most well-known bracket predictions come via ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS’ Jerry Palm.

Lunardi gives JMU a No. 11 seed in his most recent bracket (as of March 12 at 6:30 a.m. ET), with the Dukes facing off against Washington State in Omaha. Palm’s most recent bracket (updated on March 11 at 9 a.m. ET) lists the Dukes as a No. 12 seed, facing Texas Tech.

The majority of “bracketologists” – you can find a boatload of bracket predictions at Bracketmatrix.com, if you’re a sicko – give JMU a No. 12 seed. The Dukes will likely fall somewhere in the 11-13 range.

A seed 13 feels like a bit of a snub, given JMU’s 31-3 record and solid metrics. The Dukes are in the top 40 nationally in ESPN’s Strength of Record, and their predictive metrics are respectable (60th in KenPom). Unfortunately, JMU lacks marquee wins. That keeps the Dukes from truly threatening for a 10 seed or a single-digit seed. JMU dominated a lot of bad teams.

An 11 seed feels like the best-case scenario, while a 13 seed looks like the worst-case scenario. A 12 seed is probably the most realistic seeding for the Dukes, but based on dozens of bracket projections, JMU has a better chance at an 11 seed than a 13 seed.

Who will JMU play?

This is where the fun begins. Who will the Dukes play in the first round of the tournament? Here’s a list of teams we’ve frequently seen matched up against JMU across bracket predictions:

  • Texas Tech
  • Washington State
  • Clemson
  • South Carolina
  • BYU
  • Utah State
  • San Diego State
  • Auburn
  • Alabama

At the moment, all of those teams are in the 4-6 seed range, with the majority being in the mix for a 5 or 6 seed. These projected seedings can move depending on Power Conference tournament results.

At the very least, however, JMU will have a manageable first-round game because of the Dukes’ stellar record. JMU should have a seed that puts it in position to make the Sweet 16, if it has a great week. The Dukes likely won’t have to face a No. 1 or No. 2 seed until the Sweet 16, good news for a program hoping to make a run.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Three Notch’d Brewing for their advertising support.

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