Xavier Brown, James Madison Dukes

The James Madison Dukes look to build on a successful first season in the Sun Belt.

As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

James Madison has had a strange past few seasons. The Dukes, arguably the best team in the CAA two seasons ago, was banned from the conference tournament due to their announcement of bolting for the Sun Belt (a football first move, by the way). Then, in what was one of the most stunning league tournament runs, the Dukes were ousted by 8-seed South Alabama in the Sun Belt semis. Despite all of the adversity, JMU is poised to have another strong season.

A big reason for the optimism is that the Dukes have used the transfer portal to bring in talent to replace the scoring that has moved on. Leading scorer Terrence Edwards is back, and the additions of guys like TJ Bickerstaff, Michael Green, and Bryant Randleman give this team a veteran presence. The Sun Belt will be a tough league once more, but James Madison is equipped to push for a title.

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Mark Byington (11th season, 4th at James Madison)

2022-23 record: 22-11 (12-6)

2023 postseason finish: Lost in Sun Belt Tournament Semifinals to South Alabama

Notable departures: Vado Morse (Graduated), Takal Molson (Graduated), Mezie Offurum (Graduated)

Notable non-conference games: N/A

Projected Rotation

PG: Michael Green III (6-0, 155, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 9.0 PPG, 4.2 APG, 0.9 SPG (Transfer from Robert Morris)

SG: Terrence Edwards (6-6, 190, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG

SF: Noah Freidel (6-4, 210, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 8.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 APG

PF: Julien Wooden (6-8, 225, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 8.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 51% FG

C: Justin Amadi (6-7, 225, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 4.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 61.3% FG

6: TJ Bickerstaff (6-9, 220, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 5.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG (Transfer from Boston College)

7: Bryant Randleman (6-4, 190, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 8.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 SPG (Transfer from High Point)

8: Xavier Brown (6-2, 170, So.)

2022-23 stats: 2.8 PPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG

9: Raekwon Horton (6-6, 215, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 5.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.1 APG (Transfer from Charleston)

James Madison Dukes MVP: Terrence Edwards

It’s not often that a team’s leading scorer comes off the bench, but Terrence Edwards did exactly that last season for the Dukes. Edwards only started half the season before coming off the bench for the majority of Sun Belt play, being held to single-digits just once during that stretch in which JMU went 10-5. That performance earned him 6th Man of the Year honors for the league. The fact of the matter is that Edwards has taken on a bigger role each season he’s been in Harrisonburg, and he’s improved each time.

If there’s one area that Edwards will need to improve on this season, it’s cutting down on turnovers. However, his playmaking ability makes it a little easier to swallow those mistakes. It’s hard to imagine Edwards not being employed in a starting role this season, but if he takes another step forward in his fourth year with the Dukes, he should be in the Sun Belt MVP conversation by the end of the season.

James Madison Dukes Make-or-Break Player: Michael Green III

If there’s one area of concern on this team, it’s the point guard position. And, that statement isn’t a knock on the guys who will fill that role for the Dukes this season. Michael Green III and Bryant Randleman are both proven guards who have found success at their prior schools. However, it takes time to integrate any new point guard into a new scheme in order to run things on the offensive side of the ball.

Green III has more scoring capability, while Randleman fills a more traditional role of passing and playing stout defense. Michael Green III’s flexibility to run the point or play off the ball as a scorer will be key in keeping the backcourt a strength of this JMU squad. If he can combine the scoring we saw out of him during his second year at Bryant with the passing he displayed at Robert Morris last season, than James Madison will be in great shape.

Key Analytic: Free Throw Percentage

James Madison ranked just 245th in the nation last year in free-throw shooting at a clip just above 70 percent. Given that the Dukes got to the free-throw line almost 39 percent of the time makes that number feel even worse. One of the hallmarks of the best teams is being able to ice games away down the stretch, so improving that mark can go a long way towards securing a Sun Belt title and potentially playing Cinderella in March.

James Madison Dukes 2023-24 Projections

Projected Conference Finish: 2nd in Sun Belt

Projected Postseason Ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32

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