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Joyous JMU superfans return to Richmond ready for more, after team advances to NCAA tourney

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 12, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Devoted fans of the rising college sports power in Harrisonburg, Virginia traveled to the Florida panhandle and back to watch JMU punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Our search for some of the biggest fans of the James Madison Dukes led us to the Saadatmand family from Richmond as they returned from the Sun Belt Conference tournament in Pensacola.

That's where JMU defeated Arkansas State for the title and the chance for even bigger dreams.

Father Barry and son Afton said there never was a doubt about traveling to see Barry's alma mater in action, especially since this is only the team's second trip to the NCAAs in 30 years.

Real fans show up.

"I'm really glad we did it," said Barry Saadatmand. "I think a lot of people I know were kicking themselves for not doing it, not pulling the trigger. 'Oh, the airfare's too much. Pensacola's so far out of the way.' You know, 'Oh, we're gonna lose!' I think we're really glad, we said, 'none of that matters, we'll go!'"

"I love it, because when we were in the FCS, JMU wasn't well known," said Afton Saadatmand,15. "Most people were like, 'JMU, we don't know who that is. Some small-time school?' But when we moved up, 11-1 in football, 31-3 in basketball, now everyone knows about it. It's awesome."

As far as where the NCAA seedings might take JMU, Barry Saadatnand said if the Dukes play in Brooklyn or Charlotte they will definitely be there.

He says only Spokane or Omaha would be out of reach.

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