Pittsburgh’s first and second round games for the 2018 NCAA Tournament are set.
The games, played Thursday through Saturday at PPG Paints arena, are headlined by No. 1 seed Villanova, No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils and on of the most exciting players in the country in Oklahoma’s Trae Young.
Villanova will return to the site of its upset loss to North Carolina State in 2015, when the Wolfpack advanced to the Sweet 16 and prompted the infamous tears of a Villanova piccolo player. The Wildcats, fresh off a victory in the Big East Tournament, will play the winner of LIU Brooklyn and Radford, which is a First Four matchup.
LIU Brooklyn should be familiar with Pittsburgh. The Blackbirds play against Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference, guard Julian Batts is a Jeannette grad and assistant coach Marlon Williamson was an assistant under Jamie Dixon at Pitt from 2014 to 2016. The Colonials beat LIU Brooklyn, 88-79 at PPG Paints Arena in January.
Radford finished second in the Big South conference, but won the conference tournament to advance to the Big Dance.
The winner of that first-round game in the East Region will face the winner of No. 8 Virginia Tech and No. 9 Alabama. The Hokies, ACC mates of Pitt, last came to Pittsburgh in 2017, when they beat the Panthers, 66-63 at Petersen Events Center. Montour alum Devin Wilson plays for the Hokies.
In the Midwest Region, the second-seeded Blue Devils will face Iona. Another member of the ACC, Duke came to Pittsburgh in January and rolled with an 87-52 victory. The Blue Devils feature ACC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year Marvin Bagley III.
Iona, located in New Rochelle, New York, won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament after a 20-13 regular season.
If Duke advances, it’ll be a tough matchup in the second round. No. 7 Rhode Island was the best team in the Atlantic-10 all season before falling to Davidson in the conference tournament final. But Dan Hurley, rumored to be a candidate for many open coaching positions, including the one at Pitt, had the Rams rolling all year with a 25-7 record.
They’ll face Oklahoma and Young, the nation’s leading scorer at 27.4 points per game. The Sooners were an upset to make the field, having finished 2-8 down the stretch. But now that they’re in, the presence of Young gives them a change to win almost any game.
Thursday, 12:15 p.m. No. 7 Rhode Island vs. No. 10 Oklahoma (CBS)
Followed by No. 2 Duke vs No. 15 Iona (truTV)
Thursday, 6:50 p.m. No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 16 LIU Brooklyn/Radford (TNT)
Followed by No. 8 Virginia Tech vs. No. 9 Alabama (TNT)
The full bracket tournament is below.