The Radford Highlanders will clash with the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament Tuesday night from the University of Dayton Arena. Radford went 12-6 in Big South action this season and won the Big South Tournament. LIU Brooklyn posted a 10-8 record in conference play, and they came out on top in the Northeast Conference Tournament. The winner of this contest will take on Villanova on Thursday.
Radford Dazzles on Defense in Conference Tourney
The Radford Highlanders won their conference tournament behind tremendous defensive play. They edged Liberty by a 55-52 score in the Northeast title game this past weekend. Radford only shot 36% in that one, however, they held Liberty to 43% shooting and a 6 for 19 mark from beyond the arc. Carlik Jones played a key role in the victory, netting 13 points along with six assists. The freshman guard scored at least 13 points in all three games in the conference tournament, and he stands second in team scoring with 11.8 points per game. Highlanders’ leading scorer Ed Polite Jr. wasn’t sharp in his last two games, going a combined 5 for 20 from the field for a total of 24 points. Overall, the junior forward is having a solid season, averaging 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Radford is red-hot, riding a seven-game winning streak which marks their longest streak of the season. They played outstanding defense throughout their winning streak, and they are ranked at 170th in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball rankings. The Highlanders are not a high-scoring team, averaging only 67.4 points, ranking them down at 314th overall. They rely on their defense to win games, and are limiting opponents to 64.4 points, good for 14th in the country.
LIU Brooklyn Stuns #1 Seed Wagner in Title Game
The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds stunned the #1 seed Wagner Seahawks with a 71-61 victory in the championship game of the Northeast Tournament. The Blackbirds were able to sink 53% of their field goals in the win, while limiting Wagner to a 30% shooting performance. Blackbirds’ leading scorer Joel Hernandez was outstanding throughout the conference tournament, and he accumulated 32 points on 10 for 16 shooting in the title game. The senior guard has scored at least 25 points in four consecutive games, and he is currently averaging 20.9 points on 46.5% shooting. Raiquan Clark also had a terrific conference tournament, scoring 28 points in the semifinals, followed by a 20 point effort on 8 for 12 shooting in the championship win. The junior guard features a dazzling 55% field goal percentage to go with an average of 17.4 points.
LIU Brooklyn heads into this contest riding a five-game winning streak. They feature solid scoring depth and they are also averaging 38 rebounds per game. The Blackbirds are positioned at 251st overall in Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball rankings. They are scoring an average of 77.5 points, ranking them 79th in the country. LIU Brooklyn will give up points, allowing an average of 76.6 points, placing them 284th overall.
The Radford Highlanders are:
- 3-8 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games.
The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds are:
- 14-6 ATS in their last 20 games following a straight up win.
I am taking the points with LIU Brooklyn in this matchup. LIU Brooklyn was able to beat #1 seeded Wagner in their conference tournament, and they have a great chance in this matchup. While Radford is the better defensive team, LIU Brooklyn is the much stronger offensive team, and their leading scorer Joel Hernandez is averaging a sizzling 26.4 points in his last 5 games. Furthermore, LIU Brooklyn played sharp defense down the final stretch, allowing an average of only 62.7 points in their last three games, plus they are up against a Radford team that is shooting a weak 42.6% on the season.
Pick: LIU Brooklyn
Radford is a very low-scoring team and both teams are playing strong defense right now. Radford has scored 61 or fewer points in three straight games, and the Blackbirds defense is looking strong right now, plus the under is 4-0 in Radfords’ last four games. Also, while I do expect some offensive success from LIU Brooklyn, Radford has held their opponents to 52 points in their last two games played, and the under is 4-0 in LIU Brooklyn’s last four games.