Congrats Radford! You are the lucky team that gets to take a bus from Dayton to Pittsburgh to play Villanova. The Italian Stallion in coach Jay Wright will be dressed to the nines in a three-piece suit awaiting your arrival. Yes, I make this sound like a bad thing but you are still playing in March and that is every colleges dream. Yes, no number 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed but it is only in due time, right?
Villanova sets out to win another National Championship and recapture their magic of the 2015-16 season. Some key players still remain from that championship team, Pre-season All-American Jalen Brunson being one of them. Brunson had 4 points in 22 minutes in the championship game. Mikal Bridges who has had a breakout Junior year was also apart of the National Championship team. Bridges has gone from a good player to a possible NBA lottery pick this season. Sophomore Donte DiVincenzo is the Big East 6th man of the year and an all-around athlete that makes the press and fast break part of Nova’s game that much better.
Radford won their first-ever NCAA Tournament game on Tuesday when they beat LIU-Brooklyn in the First Four. Finishing second in regular season play and winning the Big South tournament is how Radford got into the tournament. This is their third appearance in the big dance, all as #16 seeds. 1998 losing to Duke and 2009 losing to North Carolina, both by 35 plus points.
Ed Polite Jr. leads Highlanders in scoring at 13.5 ppg. But by no means is this any one player’s team, ‘success by committee’ should be their motto. Mike Jone’s team has seen 10 players get in over 30 games this season. To put that in perspective, Villanova has only 6 players play in over 30 games. So Radford substitutes a lot during the game.
There are not many stats to pull out that will help Radford’s case in this one. The sole fact Villanova is a one seed with National Championship game experience is not something Radford is going to want to see on Thursday.
How Radford Pulls off the Upset
Slow. The. Game. Down. Villanova is powerful in the open court, they are quick, disciplined and the kick out 3 seems to fall more off then not. If Radford limits its mistakes to none, shoots 50-60% including some threes and gets Nova off their game completely, then Radford can stay in it. I know this all seems like a lot but it is going to take more than shooting lights out and a bad performance from a #1 seed to finally get the holy grail of March Madness upsets.
Date: 3/15/18 Thursday
Time: 6:50 PM EST
Arena: PPG Paints Arena
Location: Pittsburgh, PA