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Introducing Cinderella: Radford is dancing thanks to a bid-clinching three

BigSouth Liberty Radford Basketball

Radford guard Carlik Jones (1) shoots against Liberty guard Lovell Cabbil (3) during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship NCAA college basketball game , Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Radford Va. (AP Photo/Don Petersen)


Conference: Big South

Coach: Mike Jones

Record: 22-12 (12-6 Big South, 2nd)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 169
RPI: 127
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: Depending which teams actually earn the automatic bids this year, Radford could end up in the play-in game. What’s more likely is that they end up on the No. 15 seed line or as one of the No. 16 seeds that gets a “bye”.

Names you need to know: Radford’s star is Ed Polite Jr., a 6-foot-5 forward that nearly averaged a double-double last season. He was Radford’s all-Big South first team member. But the name that you probably know now is Carlik Jones, the lead guard for the Highlanders who hit the first buzzer-beater of March Madness.

Stats you need to know: There are two things that Radford does well: They control tempo and they defend. The Highlanders were the second-most efficient defense in the Big South during league play this season, and they were certainly the slowest team in the conference, ranking 347th in tempo nationally. Put another way, bet the under for their first round matchup.

Big wins, bad losses: The biggest win that the Highlanders picked up this year was UC Davis, who they beat in the Continental Tire Classic in Las Vegas. That’s the program’s only Quadrant 2 win. The highest-level team that they beat was East Carolina, a member of the American who lost to Radford at home before Jeff Lebo was fired.

How’d they get here?: Radford has won their last seven games, closing the regular season on a four-game winning streak before cruising through the Big South tournament. The event opened up for them after Liberty, the No. 5 seed, upset UNC Asheville in the semifinals.

Outlook: Well, it’s not good. No No. 1 seed has ever lost to a No. 16 seed, and while there have been seven No. 2 seeds that have won at least a game in the dance, that’s not exactly common. The one saving grace: They defend and they control tempo. The fewer possessions that there are in a game, the better the chance is of an upset.

How do I know you?: Probably from this shot: