Oskeim Sports takes a look at the Sweet 16 matchup between Loyola Chicago and Nevada and provides several free sports picks for Thursday, March 22.
Loyola Chicago continues to be grossly underrated by the betting market. In fact, the Ramblers are a remarkable 21-8-1 ATS in their last thirty games overall, including 19-7-1 ATS against .600 or greater opposition.
Loyola is a profitable 16-4 SU and 15-4 ATS on the road this season and has posted a 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS mark against .625 or greater foes in postseason play. Let’s also note that Loyola is 8-1 SU and 9-0 ATS in postseason action when installed as an underdog of fewer than four points.
The Ramblers’ success begins at the defensive end of the floor where they are allowing just 62.2 points per game to teams that would combine to average 71.9 points per game against a mediocre defense.
Loyola limited opponents to just 61.9 points per game away from home this season and has yielded a mere 55.4 points in its previous five games.
- 5th in scoring defense
- 7th in fewest personal fouls (483)
- 2nd in personal fouls per game (13.8)
- 35th in opponent’s effective FG% (47.6)
- 42nd in opponent’s shooting percentage (41.7)
- 18th in opponent’s shooting efficiency (1.012)
These outstanding defensive ratings are not surprising in light of the fact that Loyola head coach Porter Moser worked as an assistant under Rick Majerus, whose teams always possessed lockdown defenses.
The Ramblers possess an efficient offense that is ranked 2nd in the nation in shooting percentage (50.5), 7th in effective FG% (57.7), 14th in three-point FG% (40.0), 13th in two-point FG% (56.5) and 9th in shooting efficiency (1.198).
This is a perfect matchup for Loyola from an offensive standpoint in that the Ramblers have one of the nation’s best man-to-man offenses, which is the only defense employed by Nevada head coach Eric Musselman.
Musselman also likes to get his team out in transition, which plays into the strength of Loyola, who allows transition attempts at the 28th-lowest rate in the country.
Loyola’s offense is led by former Iowa State transfer Clayton Custer, who is one of the best point guards in the nation that no one has heard of. Indeed, the Ramblers’ offense improves by 16 points per 100 possessions with Custer on the floor.
The Ramblers also like to work inside-out, attempting shots at the rim at the 47th-highest rate in Division I. Once again, Loyola’s methodical offense resembles those coached by Majerus.
Nevada has struggled to defend the rim throughout the 2017-18 campaign, ranking 194th in opponent’s 2-point FG% and 214th in opponent’s field goals made per game. The Wolf Pack also rank 231st in the country in opponent’s offensive rebound percentage (27.9) and 289th in opponent’s offensive rebounds per game.
The most significant issue facing Nevada in this game is its lack of depth. Musselman has been utilizing a six-man rotation and cannot afford to see any of those players in foul trouble. However, the Ramblers work the ball inside where they can exploit Jordan Caroline, who struggles to defend in the paint.
Loyola big man Cam Krutwig should dominate the interior at the offensive end of the floor and, in the process, draw contact (and fouls) from Caroline. It’s a scenario the Wolf Pack can’t afford due to their lack of depth.
The Ramblers’ patient offense will ultimately wear down Nevada in the second half, thereby allowing Loyola to pull away and win this game outright. The points in this game are simply a bonus for Loyola backers.
Grab the point(s) with Loyola Chicago as one of Oskeim Sports’ Free Sports Picks for Thursday, March 22.
Oskeim’s Free Sports Picks for March 22:
- Loyola Chicago (+1.5) over Nevada
- Texas-San Antonio (-4) over Sam Houston State
- Texas A&M (+3) over Michigan
If you enjoyed these free sports picks, be sure to visit Oskeim’s Blog on a regular basis for more quality free sports picks.