Villanova Wildcats to play Radford Highlanders in first round of NCAA Tournament

Villanova Wildcats to play Radford Highlanders in first round of NCAA Tournament

One of the downfalls of earning a top seed (although deep down there's no REAL reason to complain) is the chance of having to face off against the victor of one of the play in games, which was exactly the case for Villanova.

All season, the Villanova Wildcats felt confident enough in their chances of earning a top seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, as long as they didn't suffer some sort of insane collapse that resulted in the team falling outside the top 10.

"Another chance to make history".

A day after winning the BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden for the third time in four years, the Villanova men's basketball team drew the No. 1 Seed in the East Bracket on Selection Sunday and will face the victor of LIU Brooklyn and Radford in Pittsburgh at the PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, March 15th.

The Highlanders (23-12) reached the Big Dance after sweeping their way through the Big South Conference tournament and edging Liberty 55-52 in the championship game.

Luckily for the Highlanders, Fields, Jr. was there to punctuate a 9-0 run with two silky smooth jump shots that regained the lead at 44-38. It's the only way they'll be able to break through a stout Radford defense that allowed 64.4 points per game, 14th-best in the nation.

Zach Coleman #5 of the Long Island Blackbirds
Joe Robbins

Radford: Faces No. 1 seed Villanova in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: After finishing sixth in the Big South last season, Radford, in southwestern Virginia, was picked in preseason polls to finish near the bottom of the conference again.

"We tried to commit extra bodies to him", said Radford coach Mike Jones, who has presided what was a five-year rebuild, "We tried to load the box and make sure that, like in football, that there's a lot of bodies in there when he's trying to get a bucket".

The Highlanders used 11 players in the first half and 12 before the final minute.

Radford's Randy Phillips (32) and LIU Brooklyn's Julius van Sauers (2) tip off during the first half of a First Four game of the NCAA Tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio.

For Radford, bench play is as important of a reason as any that the Highlanders are moving on in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Radford is led by Ed Polite Jr. Raiquan Clark added 14 points and Julian Batts contributed 13 and eight boards in defeat for LIU Brooklyn.


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