In the CBI Championship Series, Loyola (IL) & Louisiana-Monroe will meet up in a best of 3 series, with game one scheduled for tonight. How are the NCAA basketball odds looking for the opener?
Looking over the NCAA basketball odds, it's clear oddsmakers are liking Loyola's chances of taking game one in style on their home court. The Ramblers are favored by either six or six and a half points depending on your preferred sportsbook.
The O/U is currently trading at 131, with some sites offering up 131.5. Neither team set the world on fire offensively this season, with Loyola and Lousiana-Monroe ranking 300th and 255th respectively in average points scored per game.
Loyola (IL) Ramblers
The Ramblers weren't able to make it into the Big Dance, but they've most definitely made the most of their CBI invitation.
First though, let's recap what we've seen out of Loyola throughout the regular season. The Ramblers went 22-13 overall and 8-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference. They didn't really have any standout victories, as they fell to the two powerhouses in the conference, Wichita State and Northern Iowa, without much of a fight. Still, Loyola has closed things out in excellent fashion and will now look to put the cherry on top with a best of three series win over the Warhawks. So far in the tournament they've topped Rider, Oral Roberts and then Seattle in the semi-finals.
Which players should we be paying most attention to on Monday night? Milton Doyle leads the team with averages of 11.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.4 APG, while Christian Thomas (11.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG) has been a solid producer as well. No other Rambler has averaged in double figures, as head coach Porter Moser has been rolling with a deep rotation. Nine different players have averaged at least 17 minutes of court time per game heading into this evening's showdown, and that includes Devon Turk, who has been one of the best shooters in the conference this season.
It hasn't been the easiest roads so far in the CBI for the Warhawks, but they've survived their first three tests to reach the championship. They beat Eastern Michigan, Mercer and Vermont along the way, with each victory coming by six points or less.
The Warhawks have a couple standout players in Tylor Ongwae and Majok Deng who have been carrying most of the scoring load this season. Ongwae has been good for 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds a contest, while Deng has more than held his own by posting averages of 10.6 PPG and 7.5 RPG. That duo's play has been a big reaso nwhy Louisiana-Monroe has been rock solid on the glass, with the team ranked 57th in all of college basketball in total rebounding.
Will Ongwae and Deng make the difference tonight? Unlike Loyola, the Warhawks have been giving their best guys all the minutes they can handle, with the previously mentioned tandem, along with Nick Coppola, all averaging at least 30 minutes per contest. Those three are going to have to play well if Louisiana-Monroe wants to take a 1-0 advantage back home.
NCAA Basketball Pick
The college basketball odds are clearly in the Ramblers' favor for game one of the best of three, and we have to side with the favorites here.
With a well-balanced attack and a defense that has proven to be suffocating, as we saw in the victory over Seattle, we like Loyola to come out and make a statement in the first meeting. We also like how the Ramblers have been more battle-tested, having to deal with the tougher MVC as opposed to the weak Sun Belt. That should hold them in good stead tonight.
With that said, we're going to recommend backing Loyla with your NCAA Basketbal picks, as they look to get the series off to the right start at home.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Loyola (IL) Ramblers -6 at BetOnline.