Back Nevada in Sweet 16 Nail-Biter Over Loyola-Chicago

nevada basketball

Doug Upstone

Monday, March 19, 2018 4:59 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 19, 2018 4:59 PM UTC

The Sweet 16 commences in Atlanta, with the South Region the most unpredictable of them all this March. None of the Top 4 made their way to the Peachtree City, but we still have a cast of characters.

No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 11 Loyola-ChicagoSouth Region, Atlanta, Thursday, 7:07 p.m. ETFree NCAAB Pick: NevadaBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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At 7:07 ET on CBS Friday, for Cinderella teams Nevada and Loyola-Chicago the dream continues and one team is guaranteed to play in the Elite Eight. The Wolf Pack have no depth, had played Texas in OT two days prior and were down 22 points with 11 minutes to play against one the toughest defenses in the country. So what does Nevada do? Go on a 32-8 run to win over No. 2 Cincinnati.

Did Wichita State leave the Missouri Valley Conference to improve their stock or get away from Loyola-Chicago? Of course, the answer was the former, but the Ramblers are rolling have taken down an ACC team (Miami) and the SEC co-regular-season champs (Tennessee). The college basketball odds have Nevada as a two-point favorite with a total of 143.5, but the only real loser will be on the scoreboard, not one of these teams. Given how unbelievably insane this bracket has played out, having a 6-6 ATS record is something I will take and hope to close it out at 3-0.

Nevada Can Shoot Way into Elite Eight

In spite of the UNDER having a 31-20-1 record in the tournament, half the remaining field averages over 80 points a game. One of those teams is Nevada (29-7, 17-16-2 ATS) at 83 points a game, and that is what allowed them to beat both Texas and Cincinnati.

In trailing by double digits to both teams in the second half, coach Eric Musselman implored his team to play faster, and once they started running and playing their NBA-style they got into a rhythm and the shots started falling. This is how Nevada has to play to win. Musselman only has six dependable players, but all of them can score, which is why they connect on 47 percent and make 39.6 percent from deep and average 10 three-pointers.

If you watched both victories, once the Wolf Pack offense was percolating, the Nevada defensive energy and willingness to fight for rebounds was like five new subs had come into play. If Musselman's team can play their game, they will be tough to beat.

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Final: Clayton Custer can do it all! See you in Atlanta!#Loyola - 63
UT - 62#OnwardLU #MVCHoops

— Loyola Basketball (@RamblersMBB) March 18, 2018

Loyola Scores High on Persistence and Guile

It's been 33 years since Loyola-Chicago (30-5, 22-9 ATS) made the Big Dance, and they are making the most of every last second, literally. The Ramblers have made two shots to win two games in this tournament, one with 0.4 seconds and the other with 3.6. The latter game-winner by Clayton Custer hit the front side of the rim, touched the backboard, bounced around and fell into the net. For some reason, having a 98-year-old nun in a wheelchair as Loyola's unofficial team cheerleader makes more sense at the moment.

Like Nevada, the Ramblers could have given up in either victory when the game was not going their way, but did not and just kept playing and something good happened. Coach Porter Moser has taught his team to take great shots and they make them: knocking down 50.6 from the field and 39.8 percent from behind the arc. For good measure, the defense is outstanding in holding opponents to 41.6 percent shooting and just 62.2 PPG.

Road Warriors Collision

Forget who these teams have played all season, winning on the road in any league is cumbersome. Why these teams are here is because of talent and the mental toughness it requires to be 16-4 (Loyola) and 15-6 (Nevada) away from home.

For college basketball picks, this is no easy selection, in part because I started following these teams closely back in December and really admire how both play. While defense may win champions, the diversity of the Nevada offense is too hard to ignore and I see them moving on as 73-70 winners as two-point favorites. (You would expect anything less from these teams?)

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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