Bound to happen. But will it be Radford over East Region top seed Villanova in this March Madness matchup on Thursday evening? No.
There are those who believe that automatic qualifiers shouldn’t have to play in “First Four” games, but these battles between 16 seeds have all the same feeling that the bracketed games have.
Even though it wasn’t the best of starts, Villanova would quickly get their act together to pull through for an easy 87-61 win over Radford to setup a second-round matchup with the victor of the game between Virginia Tech and Alabama.
One of these days, a 16 seed is going to knock off a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats just won the Big East Tournament in NY.
“They make you feel like kings”, Jones said.
Villanova has a balanced attack. The Wildcats will also need a big tournament from sophomore guard Donte DiVicenzo (13.1 points), but he has scored only 6.3 per game in his last three outings. “Villanova is unbelievable”, said senior Peter Mahotiere.
The center of the college basketball universe is at UD Arena where over the next two nights the NCAA Tournament gets underway with the First Four. Emotions are high in the Highlanders locker room coming off that miraculous finish, so they’re hoping that good fortune carries them off into the big dance. The Wildcats are the top offensive team in the nation, averaging 87.1 points.
“For our team to hold that group to 61 points is really a testament to the kind of defense we’ve been playing here at the end of the year”, Jones said. “And he recovers so well defensively with his length”. Mikal Bridges added 13, Eric Paschall 11 and Omari Spellman, Phil Booth and freshman Dahmir Cosby-Roundtree pitched in with 10 points each. Stretching back to December Radford is 17-6 over its last 23 games.
“The biggest challenge is always this first game”, Villanova coach Jay Wright told ESPN.
GONZAGA 68, UNC GREENSBORO 64 Zach Norvell Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.8 seconds left to help Gonzaga escape a major scare. He recently suffered a hand injury and just made it back for the Big East tournament.
The players continually rotate the ball around to all their teammates. So you have to figure out, how did they play when they played bigger-time teams and how did they play in their league?
UCLA (21-12) bristled at having to play in the First Four for the first time in its history; the Bruins have been to 18 Final Fours.
And on what will carry the Highlanders through as they face powerhouse Villanova? Deensively, Villanova yields 70.9 points per game against the opposing teams.