For the fifth time in six years, James Madison men’s basketball will begin its season against a top-25 team as they face an in-state, non-conference opponent at No. 24 Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. with viewing coverage on ESPN3.
The game marks the first time the teams have met since December 16, 2003 when the Dukes fell to the Cavaliers on the road 90-80. UVA owns a commanding 8-0 record over JMU in the series, including four previous matchups with the Cavs ranked in the Top 25.
JMU is coming off of its first Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship since 1994 and its fifth overall NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament appearance. The Dukes posted a First Four win over LIU Brooklyn, 68-55, in Dayton in order to achieve their first NCAA win since 1983.
The Dukes are returning seven players from last year’s championship roster, including Andrey Semenov who missed most of the 2012-2013 season due to injuries, as well as standout sophomores Ron Curry, Taylor Bessick and Charles Cooke. In JMU’s last game against a ranked opponent, Indiana, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Cooke netted a career-high 18 points and four rebounds.
The Dukes, the defending CAA Champions, were selected to finish seventh in the CAA preseason poll this year out of the nine teams in the conference.
The Cavaliers posted a 23-12 record last season, their best under head coach Tony Bennett, who is entering his fifth season at UVA. The Cavaliers are returning 11 players, including last year’s leading scorer and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year candidate Joe Harris, who averaged a career-high 16.3 points per game and was recently added to the watch list for National Player of the Year. Also looking to contribute for Virginia is senior forward Akil Mitchell, who was the team’s second leading scorer last season behind Harris, averaging 13.1 points while also being the team’s leading rebounder with 8.9 boards per game.
Virginia went on to earn a No.1 seed in the National Invitation tournament last season where it lost in the quarterfinals to Iowa. The Cavs were selected to finish fourth in the ACC this season behind Duke, league newcomer Syracuse and North Carolina.
Following the matchup against the Cavaliers, JMU will travel to DeKalb, Ill. for the NIU Invitational starting Friday, Nov 15 with subsequent games vs. Milwaukee and San Jose State..