NCAA Tournament: Radford and St. Bonaventure Advance

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Carlik Jones added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Highlanders, who move on to face No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

All season, the Villanova Wildcats felt confident enough in their chances of earning a top seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, as long as they didn't suffer some sort of insane collapse that resulted in the team falling outside the top 10.

For the first time in NCAA tournament history, the Radford Highlanders emerged as the victor.

Long Island against Radford may seem like an unexciting matchup to kick off the NCAA Tournament with, but on Tuesday night at the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio before a large crowd, both teams battled it out in front of an emotional crowd that hung on every pass and shot.

The Highlanders (23-12) reached the Big Dance after sweeping their way through the Big South Conference tournament and edging Liberty 55-52 in the championship game.

Head coach Mike Jones speaks with Donald Hicks during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Head coach Mike Jones speaks with Donald Hicks during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

The Highlanders have only two players averaging in double figures and Polite leads the way in points (13.5), rebounds (7.7) and steals (1.9), but he was just 5-for-20 from the floor the last two games. It's the only way they'll be able to break through a stout Radford defense that allowed 64.4 points per game, 14th-best in the nation.

Travis Fields Jr of Radford during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

"Our bench has been our strength all year", Radford coach Mike Jones said. When looking at how many favorites have been knocked out in the first round as a No. 2 seed, it's only a matter of time before a No. 16 seed pulls off the unthinkable by becoming the first team to finally earn a win.

Clark and Hernandez compose the most risky pair of scorers in the conference, and collectively averaged 47.0 points per game in LIU Brooklyn's run in its conference tournament. Radford is led by Ed Polite Jr. Radford also held Blackbirds' leading scorer Joel Hernandez to eight points, 12 below his season averaged of 20 ppg. The Big South champion Highlanders are making their third tournament appearance and first since 2009.