Loyola Ready to Ramble & Roll Over Miami for Upset

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Doug Upstone

Monday, March 12, 2018 7:42 PM GMT

Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 7:42 PM GMT

Miami-Florida is a small favorite over Loyola-Chicago in a South Region first-rounder Thursday (3:10 p.m. ET, TruTV). The second game of the day in Dallas could be a good spot for the underdog.

Miami (Florida) vs. Loyola-ChicagoFree NCAAB Pick: Loyola-Chicago +1.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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If you have been following ACC basketball all season, you are very familiar with the sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes. Who you might be less familiar with is 11-seed Loyola-Chicago, which is back in the tournament for the first time in 33 years and was the national champion in 1963.

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On the surface, a team from the ACC taking on a squad that is literally coming out of nowhere could sound like a mismatch, but those setting the college basketball odds know better and Miami was only a 2.5-point opening-line favorite. Do the regular-season and Missouri Valley Conference tourney champs really have a chance for the upset?

Miami Better Come To Play And Use Athleticism

The Hurricanes (22-9, 10-15-1 ATS) have one tremendous edge in this matchup: superior athletes. Coach Jim Larranaga will no doubt set up his game plan to take advantage of this. This will include spacing to widen out a Loyola defense that finished tied for fourth nationally in fewest points allowed at 62.2. This would allow fabulous freshman Lonnie Walker IV (11.6 PPG) to attempt to break down the player guarding him, along with other Miami players to do the same. The 'Canes have excellent offensive balance, which can make them difficult to guard, but not having sophomore Bruce Bowen Jr. (injured) hurts them on both ends of the floor.

One might believe Miami would be an elite defensive squad with so many gifted athletes, but that has not been the case and this is where they are vulnerable. In nine of the Hurricanes' last dozen contests they allowed a shooting percentage of 46.9 or higher, and on five occasions it was at least 50 percent.

Loyola Has To Make Miami Play Defensively

A Loyola home game became the hottest ticket starting in February for any winter event in the Windy City. Having seldom even come close to competing in the Horizon League or now the Missouri Valley, the Ramblers (28-5, 20-9 ATS) had a season for the ages. However, this is no miracle. This veteran team works hard and intelligently on both ends of the court and plays aggressively throughout.

Coach Porter Moser's players have bought into guarding for the entire shot clock on each enemy possession. Each defensive rebound is treated as a chance to pressure the opposing team, but once the Ramblers set up in the halfcourt offense they are very efficient, converting on 46.8 percent of shots on the road and 38.6 percent on threes.

The struggle for this conflict is facing more quickness and length than they ever face in their conference, which could lead to frustration.

Loyola In A Minor Upset

For college basketball picks, at least one double-digit seed will play in the Round of 32. Loyola has every element necessary to pull this off. A defense that can generate multiple stops and force opponents to become nervous on offense. A veteran team that will not get rattled and one that will move the ball to find the best shot available.

Clayton Custer (13.7 PPG) was the Player of the Year in the MVC, and center Cameron Krutwig (10.5) is a presence in the lane on offense and a fine position defender. The Ramblers roll to Saturday in Boise.

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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