The South Regional Final is Historic with K-State vs. Loyola-Chicago

MM Loyola

Doug Upstone

Friday, March 23, 2018 3:45 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 3:45 PM UTC

ESPN reported Friday morning that just over one-thousandth of 17.3 million brackets filled out at their website had Kansas State vs. Loyola-Chicago in South Regional Final. Surprised it was that many.

South Region: (9) Kansas State vs. (11) Loyola-ChicagoFree Basketball Pick: Loyola-ChicagoBest Line Offered: at Bookmaker

The South Region and March Madness have gone hand in hand this season because almost nothing has made sense. The higher seed in this region is 5-9 SU and 4-10 ATS and is guaranteed either a No. 9 seed (Kansas State) or a No. 11 seed (Loyola-Chicago) will be in San Antonio for the Final Four. You can't make this stuff up.

The early line for college basketball odds have Kansas State favored by -1 or a Pick at the various sportsbooks for this 6:09 EDT start on TBS. Time to break down this incredible and unlikely matchup.

Kansas State Just Keeps Plugging

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.@KStateMBB are #Elite8 bound #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/XAr7MVEsnU

— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 23, 2018
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The Wildcats (25-11, 16-17 ATS) have made the Big 12 proud and personify this season. Kansas State finished fourth in their conference at 10-8 and lasted just two games in their conference tournament. Thus, playing in this Elite 8 encounter with their leading-scorer Dean Wade having played all of eight minutes in this tournament, yes, that would qualify as a shocking result to this point. In K-State's last three games they have only shot 40.5 percent, yet survived.

Why, defense. Coach Bruce Weber's team have held their opponents to 33.7 percent and that is remarkable considering how well Creighton shot the ball all season and how many close to the basket attempts Kentucky had all year.

About the only way to describe this team is - gritty - because they are always giving tremendous defensive effort, finding ways to score points and never quitting. If Kansas State can win it would their first Final Four in 54 years.

Loyola-Chicago Comfortable in Squeakers

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Porter Moser and Loyola ain't done yet. The Ramblers have their sights set on the Final Four. pic.twitter.com/8CM9vVDsqx

— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 23, 2018
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Loyola-Chicago (31-5, 23-9 ATS) last played in the NCAA Tournament 33 years ago and is making every minute matter, if not causing Ramblers fans heart problems. With their 69-68 victory over Nevada, Loyola is 3-0 in the tourney with those wins are by four total points.

Similar to Kansas State, the Ramblers rely on their defense. For the season they have only permitted 62.4 PPG and have been only slightly worse (64 PPG) against much better competition outside the Missouri Valley this month.

Coach Porter Moser's team is fundamentally sound on defense, seldom out of position, keeping their man in front of them and contesting every shot attempt.

On offense, Loyola makes more than half their shots by superior passing and ball movement and is uncanny how many attempts they have in the paint. Their belief of making the extra pass to find a great shot is telling time after time. Plus, this team has clutch shooters at crunch time.

Two Picks for South Region Finale

In case you were wondering, this is a historic matchup, as a nine-seed has never faced an 11-seed in a regional final. For college basketball picks, it makes more sense to go with the power conference team. But Loyola keeps finding ways to win, is far more consistent and is 7-0 ATS after three straight games where both teams score 70 points or less this season.

With a nun sitting courtside and having a healthy respect from them in my youth (my knuckles have arthritis from all the wooden ruler whacks), I'll back the Ramblers and sprinkle a little holy water around just before game time. (For good measure, this contest has UNDER written all over it.)

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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