Given the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Tournament, we have decided to use the next few weeks to look back and remember Villanova’s greatest tournament successes of the past. We will be walking through Villanova’s three National Championships on a game-by-game basis. So, as you’re locked inside quarantining and social distancing, share your thoughts, memories, and stories as we relive Villanova’s greatest moments.
#2 Villanova Wildcats vs. #16 Radford Highlanders
March 15, 2018
Tune in to the VUHoops’ screening of the First Round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament between #1 Villanova and #16 Radford TONIGHT AT 7:00 p.m. EST.
The game should play simultaneously for all who are watching so please take part in the live game chat!
Link: VUHoops Re-Watch
No. 1 Villanova thrashes No. 16 Radford 87-61 in NCAA opener
PITTSBURGH — The fear naturally seeps into the thinking of players on top-seeded teams in the NCAA Tournament. Could we be the ones that finally lose to a 16 seed?
”I can’t say it doesn’t cross our mind at all,” Big East player of the year Jalen Brunson said.
The answer from Villanova was an emphatic one: not a chance.
Brunson scored 16 points and No. 1 seed Villanova hit 14 3-pointers in an 87-61 romp over Radford in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament.
Villanova (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and everyone played a role. Mikal Bridges had 13 points, Eric Paschall scored 11 and Omari Spellman had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats play on Saturday against ninth-seeded Alabama.
Radford, out of rural southwest Virginia, must have felt like it was playing against ace pop-a-shot players. Villanova led 69-37 with 11:45 left and was shooting 75 percent (25 of 34) overall and 60 percent (12 of 20) from 3-point range.
The Wildcats turned an NCAA Tournament game into a glorified scrimmage.
Villanova coach Jay Wright was a bit wary of what could happen when he watched Penn give No. 1 seed Kansas a brief scare earlier in the day.
”We’re watching Penn, because my daughter goes to Penn. My wife’s rooting like crazy for Penn,” he said. “I said, `You’re rooting for Penn. If that happens, my boy, (KU coach) Bill Self, will be dying.’ But you do, you think about it. What you have to do when you’re the 1 (seed) is do everything to fight off that distraction.”
Radford’s Christian Bradford opened the game with a 3-pointer and the bench erupted.
The players should hope someone snapped a photo of the scoreboard as a souvenir for the one time the Highlanders led Villanova in this game.
The rest of the half was pure dominance by the Wildcats.
At one point, Brunson had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Radford? Just 10 points on 4 of 20 from the floor.
Villanova started the game shooting 13 of 16. For those who struggle with math, that’s a crisp 81 percent.
Phil Booth, Bridges, Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo all hit 3s in succession to blow open the game. Even when the Wildcats put the ball on the floor, they embarrassed Radford — Collin Gillespie juked guard Donald Hicks about out of his sneakers and the Highlander fell right on his behind.
Hicks led Radford with 13 points.
”They are a No. 1 seed for a reason. But this team right here is special,” Bradford said. “We’re a championship team for a reason. We never thought in our mind that we couldn’t come back.”
Radford won a First Four game to advance to Pittsburgh. The Wildcats just won the Big East Tournament in New York. With more shooting performances like this one, they’ll win much, much more in March.