The No. 1 seed Villanova Wildcats (30-4) take on the No. 16 seed Radford Highlanders (23-12) in the First Round of the East Region. The game will be played at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Thursday, March 15. Tip is at 6:50 p.m. E.T.
Preview: The Wildcats is a recent national champion, and could add another trophy to Jay Wright’s mantle this March. Villanova has one of the best one-two punches in the country in stars Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges.
Those two showed what they can do on Saturday night at the Big East Tournament. Against a hot Providence team, Brunson and Bridges combined for 56 points, including three huge shots to put away the Friars in overtime.
Villanova’s a pretty well-balanced team. KenPom’s advanced metrics have the Wildcats at No. 1 in offensive efficiancy, and No. 22 on defense.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 11, 2018
The Radford Highlanders out of the Big South made it through Tuesday night’s First Four game against LIU Brooklyn, 71-61. Ed Polite Jr. led the Highlanders with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Travis Fields Jr chipped in 13 points off the bench.
Date: March 15
Time: 6:50 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson
Opening Betting Line: TBA
This is Villanova’s 38th NCAA Tournament appearance, and the 13th under Jay Wright. Nova is in the field for the sixth year in a row.
Villanova has made 17 Sweet 16s and 13 Elite Eights. In 2016, the team won its second national title, with the first coming back in 1985.
This is Radford’s third appearance in the NCAA Tournament. All three times, the Highlanders have been a 16-seed.
In their last appearance, back in 2009, they lost to eventual national champion North Carolina 101-58. The win over LIU Brooklyn was the first in the NCAA Tournament for the Highlanders.
Prediction: Villanova is experienced, super talented, and have been great almost all year. While the Wildcats didn’t quite dominate as they had earlier in the season down the stretch, they still finished with just four losses.
Jay Wright’s club could have bowed out in the Big East Tournament, but instead battled and won some very difficult games. ‘Nova could be rounding into form at the perfect time.
Radford plays at one of the slowest paces in all of college basketball, which will be an interesting match-up with Villanova’s elite backcourt play, although the Wildcats are very comfortable in the halfcourt. KenPom ranks Radford’s adjusted pace at 346th in Division I basketball.
The Wildcats will have no issues with Radford. Villanova wins.