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Mar 12, 2018; Dayton, OH, USA; Radford Highlanders during stretch during practice before the First Four of the NCAA Tournament at Dayton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock -USA TODAY Sports

First Four Preview: LIU-Brooklyn vs. Radford

The time has officially come for the NCAA Tournament! Well, sort of. At 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday night the Big Dance kicks off with a play-in game between Radford and LIU-Brooklyn. The Radford Highlanders won the Big South Conference this year and are riding a seven-game win streak into the contest. LIU-Brooklyn upset top-seeded Wagner in the Northeast Conference finals for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, despite finishing the season 18-16. The winner of tonight’s game between the Blackbirds and Highlanders will have the pleasure of facing No. 1 seed Villanova in the Round of 64. Tuesday night’s play-in game will take place in Dayton. You can watch all the action unfold on TruTV.

Keys To The Game (Radford)

  1. Cardiac Highlanders: Radford has played 11 games this season decided by 4 points or less. In those games, the Highlanders are 6-5. Radford’s methodically slow tempo can drive teams to insanity. The Highlanders play at the 5th-slowest pace in all of D1 college basketball and force opposing teams to make the most of their possessions. Radford’s average possession length on offense is a whopping 19.8 seconds, which ranks 6th nationally.
  2. Crash The Boards: The Highlanders are one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country. Radford has an offensive rebounding percentage of 32.2%, which ranks 65th in the nation. The team has 5 players averaging 3 rebounds or more per game and loves to send all five players to the glass when a shot goes up.
  3. Don’t Be Polite: Ed Polite Jr. is the Highlanders’ top scorer. The junior is averaging a team-leading 13.5 PPG and 7.7 RPG on 48.5% shooting from the field. He’s also scored at least 17 points in a game 10 times this season. Radford needs to get their most versatile scorer going early if they want to win this game.

LIU-Brooklyn Head Coach Derek Kellogg on his team’s game vs. Radford

LIU-Brooklyn guard Jashaun Agosto on the Blackbirds potentially making history

Keys To The Game (LIU-Brooklyn)

  1. The Joel Hernandez Show: LIU-Brooklyn’s best player, far and away, is senior Joel Hernandez from Teaneck, NJ. Hernandez is averaging 20.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 2.6 APG on 46.5% shooting from the field and 38% shooting from beyond the arc. The senior is averaging 26.4 PPG over the Blackbirds’ last five contests. He’s also made at least 10 shots in three of LIU-Brooklyn’s last four games. If Hernandez doesn’t play well, the Blackbirds struggle as a whole.
  2. Value The Basketball: LIU-Brooklyn turns it over a lot, 14 times per game to be exact. The Blackbirds rank in the bottom 100 nationally in turnover percentage and have had a rough go in games that they excessively give the ball away. LIU-Brooklyn has been better as of late in this category, and have only turned the ball over 10.5 times per game in their last four games. We’ll see if their success continues into Tuesday night.
  3. Keep Up The Tempo: Unlike Radford, LIU-Brooklyn plays at an extremely quick tempo. The Blackbirds rank 39th in the nation in pace of play and love to push it up and down the floor. If the Blackbirds can set the pace early, they’ll be in good position to win the game.

Radford Head Coach Mike Jones on LIU-Brooklyn’s athleticism and ability.

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