LIU Brooklyn vs Radford. Dayton, Ohio. A Tuesday night in what the weatherman swears is the start of the Spring, but it sure as shit feels like the Winter — it’s the First Four.
It’s also the start of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. It is more grand than a piano.
What is a Blackbird?
- a European thrush with mainly black plumage.
- an American bird with a strong pointed bill. The male has black plumage that is iridescent or has patches of red or yellow.
What in the hell is a LIU Brooklyn?
LIU Brooklyn, affectionately known to its friends as the Blackbirds, happens to be a program few will confuse with Duke.
There’s actually a somewhat neat backstory to the university’s athletic department. And when I say neat, I totally mean that it actually shuttered in 1951 because of a point-shaving scandal, and did not return to function until 1957. For the sake of clarity, it didn’t rise from the ashes like a phoenix to join the Division I ranks until a point in time when your mom was daydreaming about George Michael while dating your dad.
That’s a 1980s joke, kids.
Brief NCAA Tournament History
- Seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
- Last in the Big Dance in 2013.
- Never advanced beyond the opening round.
Wait… THAT Derek Kellogg coaches LIU?
First, let’s drop this LIU Brooklyn thing. It’s Long Island University and then somehow, through magic, also Brooklyn. I live in a “city” called Wilkes-Barre. Our professional — mostly Triple A — franchises are always lumped with neighboring city Scranton. Example: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.
Hold your mascot name and The Office jokes for now, we have Blackbirds to discuss!
Anyway, you might remember Kellogg as that guy who was not so politely shown the door at UMass. If you do, then you are correct and collect some prize from Top Dog.
Kellogg, who last went to the NCAA Tournament with the Minutemen in 2013-14, overachieved during his first go around with the Blackbirds.
However, depending on how you view LIU, the Blackbirds don’t really feel like they belong to go dancing in the month of March. In reality, they were the fourth (at best) team in the NEC, and managed to parlay a ho-hum 18-16 overall record into a pair of dancing slippers thanks to the automatic bid that comes with winning a conference tournament.
Then again, if the NEC wanted different league representation, Wagner could have guarded Joel Hernandez a bit better.
Wait… what the hell is a Joel Hernandez?
A 6-foot-3, Teaneck product who would rather drop points on your cranium and then steal your girl than ask if you’d be OK with either.
Averaging over 20 points per game on the season, Hernandez fits the high-volume, low-major guard model to near perfection. The only thing we’re really missing to add him to the Keifer Sykes lexicon, and low-major bucket-making canon is some awesome highlight footage.
Oh, and the kid has swag, too. A lot of it. I mean, his bleeping Twitter handle is @Ho11ywood_.
“I want to pretty much put us on the map,” guard Joel Hernandez told the New York Post late Sunday night. “I feel like not a lot of people in America know about us. I pretty much want to shock everyone and show them that we’re a good team, we can compete with any of the best teams out there.”
I love that kid.
Other Random Tidbits
- LIU enters the tournament with the second-most losses of any team (18-16, 10-8 NEC).
- Keep an eye on Raiquan Clark. He’s Hollywood Hernandez’s running mate, averaging 17.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
- LIU Brooklyn is, indeed, located in Brooklyn.
What Is A Highlander?
Unfortunately, Christopher Lambert is not the mascot.
What the hell is a Radford?
Only operating at the big boy level since 1984, there’s not a ton of backstory to go alongside my awful jokes. No point shaving scandals. No Kellogg. Nothing but mother loving jokes about Christopher Lambert.
Brief NCAA Tournament History
- This is the program’s third NCAA Tournament appearance.
- The Highlanders are 0-2 in the Big Dance.
Radford is coached by Mike Jones
Carlik Jones MIGHT end up being something neat
Radford doesn’t have a Hollywood Hernandez who can score all the points. Instead, the Highlanders rely heavily on a balanced approach coupled with stifling defense.
If we’re being honest, they largely operate like a poor, poor man’s Virginia — scoring just 67.4 points per, but only allowing their opponents to average 64.4 (that’s good for 14th best in the country).
Anywho, Carlik Jones is an undersized freshman guard who played relatively well in the Big South Conference Tournament, and has shown flashes of a guy who can later become something really cool to re-remember all over in a different season’s Big Dance.
No. He’s not going to be Steph Curry or anything. He is averaging a solid 11.7 points per, but his efficiency numbers do leave a bit to be desired.
All I am saying, in a roundabout way, is that he’s going to introduce himself to a national audience on Tuesday — and we’ll probably see him again in different NCAA Tournament before his collegiate career is over.
Oh yeah, he’s got stones.
LIU Brooklyn vs Radford (-4.5, O/U 139)
Moneyline tomfoolery: Radford -210, LIU 175
Your totally (ONLY WHEN/WHERE LEGAL) legit gambling advice from your friend’s friend who happens to wash cars on the side to help pay off some debt accrued from messing with Walter’s friend who drives a car around the back alley to pick up something from Aunt Donna’s place. I think it’s cocaine:
Avoid the moneyline. The NCAA Tournament is meant for as much chaos as possible, and while that might make you believe that’s what the moneyline was invented for, just don’t do it.
You’re going to want to place your kid’s college tuition on the over because 139 isn’t a large number (according to some data, over 70 percent of you have already put your money on it), but avoid doing that as well. I’d put it on the under. As we discussed with Radford, not only do the Highlanders not really score, but neither do their opponents. While LIU has a few guys who are capable to go off, and the Blackbirds averaged slightly over 77 ppg on the season, the number was set at 139 for a reason.
If Radford drags LIU down a bit, which is far more likely than an a ho-hum NEC team forcing tempo, it’s going to go under. If not, tell your kids that community college is legit.
Finally, we are all going to want to bet on LIU from an emotional standpoint. I am telling you, we’re all going to fall in love with Hernandez. Thing is, that love is going to be shorter than the random dots used on Twitter by people who think they are correctly performing ellipses.
IT. IS. THREE. DOTS.
… (<— LIKE THAT)
Alas, from a logical standpoint, we’re also betting on LIU.
If we’re betting the under, given the line is 4.5, Radford isn’t THAT good to both keep the Blackbrids under 70 and beat them by five points or more.
Let’s put this more bluntly: We’re betting against Radford’s offense, but with its defense. On the flip side, we’re expecting LIU’s magical dust to run dry, but not until the very end. Sure, the Blackbirds will have to turn their pair of dancing slippers in to some giant pumpkin fella named Marky Mark Emmert and his Selection Committee Funky Bunch, but fully expect Hollywood and friends to make this exciting as all the fudges.
Prediction: Radford 68, LIU 64.