Two teams that few people predicted to reach this far in their brackets, Loyola-Chicago and Oregon State kick off Sweet 16 play Saturday afternoon. While the term “Cinderella” has been thrown around for this Rambler team, they are far from it, as the analytical community has been beating the drum for Porter Moser and Co. since early February.
Oregon State, on the other hand, I will accept as Cinderella candidates. A month ago, this Beaver squad was 11-11 with no shot at reaching the NCAA Tournament. After winning five-straight seemingly miracle games, they’re here in the Sweet 16. March is truly something special.
- Lines: BetMGM has the odds at Loyola-Chicago -6.5; O/U 125.5
- Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
- Start Time: 1:40 pm ET
- Television: CBS
After catching Tennessee and Oklahoma State sleeping, I can’t see Loyola-Chicago falling prey to Oregon State’s trap where their opponents overlook them. The Ramblers are too well coached and playing with too much of a chip on their shoulder to not hit the ground running from the start. In their Round of 32 game vs. the Pokes, Oregon State reached the free-throw line a ridiculous amount, scoring 32 points from the stripe after taking advantage of the sloppy, foul-prone defense. In the opening round vs. Tennessee, the Beavers shot 47.6% from beyond-the-arc, going 10-for-21.
Neither of these scoring outputs is sustainable, and Loyola-Chicago’s defense has been a chopping block, suffocating opposing offenses. Porter Moser has done a phenomenal job, leading the team to the best defensive efficiency in all of college basketball and it has clearly shown in their pair of tournament games. Loyola-Chicago is discipline and won’t foul nearly enough to allow 35 attempts from the charity stripe to the Beavers like Oklahoma State did. The Rambler perimeter defense has limited opponents to shooting 32.4%, so I would be surprised to see the Beavers reach above 40% on the day. Loyola-Chicago will clean up on the defensive boards, and limit any transition offense Oregon State hopes to have as well.
If the Beavers hope to pull off another miraculous upset, Ethan Thompson has to play at an all-star caliber level that we saw him reach vs the Pokes. He will have trouble reaching the charity stripe for 16-attempts again, but if he can find a way to facilitate better and allow players like Jarod Lucas or Roman Silva to step-up, they can keep it close, and perhaps reach the Elite 8. What benefits Oregon State is how slow both these teams play, so it will be tough for the Ramblers to go on offensive runs that will eliminate the Beavers from contention before the final buzzer.
- Loyola-Chicago is 5-1 ATS in neutral site games
- Loyola-Chicago is 7-3 ATS with 4+ days off
- Loyola-Chicago is 16-7-1 ATS after a win
- Oregon State is 5-0 ATS in neutral site games
- Oregon State is 15-5 ATS as an underdog
- The over is 5-2 in Loyola-Chicago’s non-conference games
- The over is 13-7 in when Oregon State is an underdog
You will see nearly everyone on Loyola-Chicago, and I am happily hopping on that train. It is well-known that the Ramblers were under-seeded at eight, and they have proven how legitimate of a Final Four threat they are. Oregon State may be a different team now than they were halfway through the season, but Loyola-Chicago has always been good.
I expect Cameron Krutwig to dominate the paint and for the Ramblers to capitalize on second-chance opportunities. They have the coaching advantage, play-style advantage and are basically better all-around than Oregon State. It will be a slow game, and that’s why some handicappers may be scared to lay 6.5 points. For me, I expect Loyola-Chicago to dominate this game from the tip and win by double-digits.
Pick: Loyola-Chicago -6.5
Check out our other Sweet 16 game previews for Saturday’s matchups:
- Houston Cougars vs. Syracuse Orange
- Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
- Villanova Wildcats vs. Baylor Bears
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Ryan Coleman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive.