LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (18-16) vs. Radford Highlanders (22-12)
When and Where: Tuesday, March 13, Dayton, Ohio, 6:40 P.M. ET
The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds and Radford Highlanders will square off at the University of Dayton Arena, and the winner will get to play against the Villanova Wildcats. Although each of these rivals will be a huge underdog in the clash with the No. 1 seeded team in the East, that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly motivated to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The Blackbirds are looking for the sixth consecutive victory
LIU Brooklyn is in an excellent form of five straight wins, and although four of them were at home, the latest one over Wagner came on the neutral court. The Blackbirds shocked the favored Seahawks thanks to a fantastic opening half which they won by 16 points, and the hosts failed to recover in time and make a comeback, so they fell short, 71-61. Derek Kellogg’s side was rather accurate from the field (53.2%) and made five out of 14 attempts from beyond the arc (35.7%), and despite trailing in rebounds and assists, the Blackbirds deservedly won the Northeast Conference Tournament.
Joel Hernandez led LIU Brooklyn with 32 points (10-16 FG, 11-14 FT), seven boards, three steals, and two blocks, while Raiquan Clark followed him with 20 points and eight rebounds. Hernandez is the team’s top scorer with 20.9 ppg, and 5.9 rpg; Clark has 17.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 1.1 spg, Jashaun Agosto averages 11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 4.1 apg, while Julian Batts contributes with 10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 1.4 spg. The Blackbirds are scoring 77.5 points per contest on average (79th), while they are allowing 76.6 points in return (284th).
The Highlanders are hoping to secure the eighth straight win
Radford has been in a fantastic form lately as they won seven consecutive matches, including the most important in the season so far – the Big South tournament finals over the Liberty Flames. The Highlanders were tied with the Flames with a few seconds remaining when Carlik Jones hit a buzzer-beater triple to send his team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. Mike Jones’ side shot 36.2% from the field and made five threes on 16 attempts (31.3%), while they committed just seven turnovers in opposite to Liberty’s 15.
Carlik Jones led Radford with 13 points, six dimes, and five rebounds; Travis Fields added 12 points, four boards, and a couple of thefts, Devonnte Holland chipped in with 11 points and seven boards, while Ed Polite ended the tilt with 11 points, three rebounds, and two steals. Polite is the team’s leading scorer with 13.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 1.9 spg, while Jones has 11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 1.1 spg. The Highlanders are scoring 67.4 points per contest on average (314th), while they are allowing 64.4 points in return (14th).
- 2-6 ATS in their last eight non-conference games
- 0-4 ATS in their last four matches following an ATS win
- 0-6 ATS in their last six matches played on a neutral court
- 10-1 ATS in their last 11 matches vs. an opponent with a winning record
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven non-conference games
- 7-3 ATS in their last ten matches following a straight-up win
These rivals haven’t met this season, but considering that this clash will be played on a neutral site it is hard to select a winner. However, Radford is playing better and is a slight favorite on this one, so I am backing them to win and face Villanova in the Round of 64.