The 2018 NCAA Tournament gets underway on Tuesday night with the First Four from Dayton. It’s a matchup of No. 16 seeds in the opener as LIU Brooklyn and Radford play for the right to then lose to No. 1 Villanova on Thursday in the East Region. The Highlanders head into this First Four matchup as the NCAA Basketball betting favorite.
2018 First Four: LIU Brooklyn vs. Radford NCAA Basketball Betting PickMarch Madness LiveRadio: 101.9 FM (LIU Brooklyn) / 101.7 FM (Radford)Opening NCAA Basketball Betting Lines: Radford -4
Why Bet on LIU Brooklyn?The Blackbirds made an improbable run to the Northeast tournament title in Coach Derek Kellogg’s first season, capped by a win at No. 1 seed Wagner. Joel Hernandez, who was named NEC Tournament MVP, finished with 32 points and seven rebounds, while Raiquan Clark had 20 points and eight rebounds, as LIU earned its first NEC Championship title since 2013, and sixth overall.Now they bring the momentum of a five-game win streak to their first NCAA appearance in five seasons. To keep things going, Hernandez and Clark will have to carry the scoring load. A lack of size could be a concern with just one regular taller than 6-6.With three guards routinely on the court, the Blackbirds want to spread the floor and attack off the dribble. All three starting guards for LIU-Brooklyn can beat their man one-on-one in transition or in isolation. Once they break down the defense, the Blackbirds look to finish or get fouled. LIU Brooklyn led the Northeast Conference in free throw rate and 2-point shooting percentage.
When Was the Last Time They Were in the Tournament?It’s the school’s first NCAA Tournament since 2013. That year, the Blackbirds were named a No.16 seed, and traveled to Dayton to face No. 16 seed James Madison as one of the First Four games in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. In that game, LIU rallied from a 12-point, first-half deficit to take a one-point lead five minutes into the second half against James Madison, but were unable overcome poor shooting and fell to the Dukes, 68-55.Here are the team’s likely starters: G Joel Hernandez, 6-3, Sr. (20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.6 apg); G/F Raiquan Clark, 6-6, Jr. (17.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 55.6 FG%); G Jashaun Agosto, 5-11, So. (11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.1 apg); G Julian Batts, 5-11, So. (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 40.9 3FG%); F/G Julius van Sauers, 6-8, So. (2.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg).
Why Bet on Radford?Radford, picked to finish seventh in the Big South, overachieved. The Highlanders have won seven in a row, including the conference tournament title game against Liberty with a stunning three at the buzzer by freshman Carlik Jones. He finished with a team-high 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting with his only made 3-pointer coming as the game winner. The Tournament MVP dished out six assists, matching his season high for the fourth time on the season. Jones finished with a tournament average of 14.0 ppg and 3.3 apg. Radford finished the tournament with only 19 turnovers committed, while forcing 44 miscues. The Highlanders scored 53 points off turnovers in the three games.Radford is led by Big South Coach of the Year Mike Jones, Big South Freshman of the Year Jones, and first team All-Big South honoree Ed Polite Jr. The last time the Highlanders were in the NCAA tournament in 2009.Radford ranks in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (64.4 points per game), and it particularly excels on the defensive glass and in closing out aggressively, especially on jump shots. The Highlanders employ a workmanlike man-to-man defense in the half court, and they occasionally will press after timeouts and free throws.
How Well Have They Done in the Past?In their first trip to the Big Dance in 1998, the No. 16 Highlanders fell to a No. 1 Duke team that featured Elton Brand and Shane Battier, 99-63, in the first round. Then in 2009, No. 16 Radford fell, 101-58, to a No. 1 North Carolina squad that was led by Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. The 2018 tournament will mark the first time the Highlanders will play outside of the South Region after playing their 1998 game in Lexington, Ky., and the 2009 contest in Greensboro, N.C.Here are the team’s likely starters: G Christian Bradford, 6-1, Sr. (4.2 ppg, 78.6 FT%); G Carlik Jones, 6-0, Fr. (11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.0 apg); G Donald Hicks, 6-3, So. (7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 40.3 3FG%); F Ed Polite Jr., 6-5, Jr. (13.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 48.5 FG%); C Randy Phillips, 6-8, Sr. (6.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 55.2 FG%).
Latest NCAA Basketball Betting Trends
- Highlanders are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Highlanders are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
- Radford is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.
- Blackbirds are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- Blackbirds are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS win.
- LIU Brooklyn is 0-6 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.