Maybe it's just me, but Radford always seems to be there. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, Radford used to be an all-women's college and still has a 59-percent female enrollment in a student body of 9,157.
The basketball team is making its first NCAA appearance in 11 years, having won the Big South Conference championship, although the Big South is only 2-17 all time in NCAA Tournament play. And the 16th-seeded Highlanders (21-11) have to face top-seeded North Carolina (28-4), presumably with point guard Ty Lawson back, in Greensboro. It's not too far away for Radford to bring a pretty good contingent.
The coach, Brad Greenberg, is the brother of Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg (the same hair-challenged look, too). That's not the only ACC connection. Though Radford and UNC have never met, Carolina assistant coach Steve Robinson was Radford's team captain in 1980 and '81.
The Highlanders, who have won 17 of their last 19 games, are led by 6-foot-11 center and Big South player of the year Art Parakhouski, who averaged 16.3 points and 11.2 rebounds. He's from Minsk, Belarus. Joey Lynch-Flohr, a 6-8, 220-pound junior, gives them more size up front, and they have a pretty solid backcourt with 5-9 junior Amir Johnson and 6-3 senior Kenny Thomas. Lynch-Flohr and Thomas had double-doubles in the title game, and Johnson averaged 5.3 assists this season.
Radford beat High Point, UNC-Asheville and VMI in the league tournament to get the NCAA automatic bid. The Highlanders lost 68-66 a Virginia early in the season and 83-61 at Wake Forest in late December.
The bid comes in coach Brad Greenberg’s second year at Radford. The UNC-Radford winner will face No. 8 seed LSU (26-7) and No. 9 Butler (26-5) in the second round.
"We are ecstatic to be in the Tournament as a number one seed," UNC coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "Our body of work for the season has been very good and we appreciate that the NCAA selection committee recognized and rewarded us for that. We would have loved to win the ACC Tournament, as well, but we congratulate Duke for winning today. I am extremely happy that seven ACC teams made the field. I would have loved for an eighth team to make it, but still I am very happy about getting seven in.
"Playing in Greensboro is great for our fans and students, but now we have to play well no matter where or when we play. Every coach in the field thinks his draw is the toughest and I am no exception. However, we can't be concerned with what the other teams in the field are doing. We have to concern ourselves with our team and how we are playing."