James Madison knocks off No. 5 Wisconsin with emphatic March Madness win

James Madison didn’t care. 

The No. 12-seeded Dukes didn’t care about Wisconsin being a No. 5 seed.

Didn’t care about the Badgers’ pedigree in the NCAA Tournament.

Certainly didn’t care about being, on paper, underdogs. 

They haven’t lost since Jan. 27. And in their minds, they were the favorites. 

Terrence Edwards Jr. puts up a shot as Wisconsin defenders look on during James’ Madison’s 72-61 victory. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

James Madison came out swinging and punched Wisconsin in the mouth from the opening whistle, and the Badgers could barely muster any counterpunch.

The Dukes showed the much higher-ranked Badgers no respect, hounding every dribble and shot without any fear en route to an emphatic 72-61 first-round win Friday night at Barclays Center. 

James Madison led over Wisconsin the entire game. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

They never trailed, embarrassing Wisconsin the entire way. 

“I’m proud of them, but not surprised,” James Madison head coach Mark Byington said. “We heard things about our schedule not being tough and who we are, [but] we knew we belonged.” 

It marked James Madison’s first win in the main field of the NCAA Tournament since 1983 (it won a First Four game in 2013).

The Dukes will next face No. 4 Duke in the second round on Sunday after the Blue Devils beat Vermont. 

Noah Freidel reacts after shooting a 3-pointer in James Madison’s win. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

James Madison’s defense quickly had the Badgers shell-shocked, forcing them to commit 19 turnovers — a whopping 13 of them in the first half.

James Madison enjoyed a 28-10 advantage in points off turnovers. 

The Sun Belt champions were picked by 45.7 percent of brackets to pull off the first-round upset — according to NCAA.com — and became the second-most popular double-digit seed in the field to reach the Sweet 16.

Dukes forward T.J. Bickerstaff — Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s nephew — said it was a “really good” matchup for his team. 

Clearly, they knew something. 

Terrence Edwards led the way with 14 points. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Dukes — who entered with a 31-3 record and 13-game win streak (the longest current streak in the nation) — enjoyed a well-rounded scoring effort, with Terrence Edwards Jr. leading the way with 14 points. Bickerstaff and Julien Wooden chipped in 12 apiece. 

“We’re not scared of the competition,” Bickerstaff said. “We proved that over and over again with different experiences, because we’ve been through it all.” 

The Badgers’ leading scorer the whole year, and St. John’s transfer, AJ Storr, had a nightmarish showing with 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting with four turnovers. 

Wisconsin was late to their practice and media availability on Thursday, stuck in traffic from Manhattan to Brooklyn. One day later, their offense was stuck. 

Maybe it would’ve been better if their bus never even arrived. James Madison ran the Badgers right back to Wisconsin. 

“I know we were looked at as underdogs,” Byington said. “But we never felt that way.”

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