Monday, March 24, 2014

JMU snaps state drought in NCAAs

Yes, JMU's 72-63 decision over Gonzaga Sunday gave the 11th-seeded Dukes their first NCAA tournament win since 1991. But it also snapped a one-and-done drought for teams across the state.

The victory was the first in the NCAAs by a Division I Virginia school since 2009, when fifth-seeded Virginia opened tournament play with a 68-61 win over No. 12 Marist. The bottom fell out in the next round, though, as the Cavaliers fell 99-73 to a Cal team coached by current Virginia leader Joanne Boyle.

Two other state programs, Liberty and VCU, lost first-round games in 2009. And over the next four years, the 10 schools from the state that qualified for the NCAAs dropped their openers as well.

Earlier Sunday, the streak continued when Hampton fell to Michigan State.

The Dukes' victory over No. 6 Gonzaga also marked the first time a lower-seeded Virginia team prevailed in the tournament since 2008, when No. 5 Old Dominion nipped No. 4 Virginia 88-85 in overtime at the Constant Center for a berth in the Sweet 16.

For the last time a lower-seeded team from Virginia won on a neutral court, one has to go back to 2005. That year, 13th-seeded Liberty topped No. 4 Penn State 78-70 in College Park, Md. The Lady Flames went on to knock off No. 5 DePaul, too, before falling to No. 1 LSU.

By the way, in 2005 five Virginia teams made the NCAAs (Liberty, Old Dominion, Richmond, Virginia and Virginia Tech), the most of any state except California (7). Ah, the good ol' days....

On Tuesday, JMU will face No. 3 Texas A&M in second-round action in College Station, Texas. The last time a lower-seeded school from Virginia beat a higher seed in a true road game? In 2002, No. 7 Old Dominion ousted No. 2 Purdue 74-70 in overtime to advance to the Sweet 16. The Lady Monarchs went on to crush Kansas State before falling to arguably the greatest of the great UConn teams in the Elite Eight. That Huskies team featured four senior All-Americans. The fifth player was some sophomore named Diana Taurasi.

Virginia schools in the NCAA 
(since 2009)

2009 - Virginia (defeated No. 12 Marist, lost to No. 4 Cal); Liberty (lost to No. 3 Louisville); VCU (lost to No. 10 Rutgers)

2010 - Hampton (lost to No. 2 Duke); JMU (lost to No. 8 Temple); Liberty (lost No. 4 Kentucky); Virginia (lost to No. 12 Green Bay)

2011 - Hampton (lost to No. 4 Kentucky); JMU (lost to No. 6 Oklahoma)

2012 - Hampton (lost to No. 1 Stanford); Liberty (lost to No. 1 Notre Dame)

2013 - Liberty (lost to No. 4 Purdue); Hampton (lost to No. 2 Duke)

2014 - Hampton (lost to No. 5 Michigan State); JMU (defeated No. 6 Gonzaga; who knows what's next?)

Click here for JMU's extensive coverage of Sunday's victory, including full postgame quotes.

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