NCAA basketball sports betting opportunities abound as March approaches, and Loyola Chicago fits a particularly sticky defensive niche that promises to make this a long, pesky, headache-inducing evening for Valparaiso.
- Valparaiso at Loyola Chicago -20.5, Total 128.5, Wednesday, 8 pm ET
- Action: Under 128.5
One of the wisest resources I am fortunate to tap says the books have caught up to Loyola Chicago’s side spreads, but not its totals. There is overriding value in taking Ramblers games to finish Under, and that is what has our attention.
|William Hill||Point Spread||Moneyline||Totals|
|Valparaiso||+20.5 (-110)||+1600||O 128.5 (-110)|
|Loyola Chicago||-20.5 (-110)||-10000||U 128.5 (-110)|
Nine of 10 Loyola games finished Under, three in a row went Over totals of 118, 120.5, and 133, respectively, and then came Sunday’s affair at Drake, which went into an extra five-minute session. And it still finished 51-50, in favor of Drake.
The 18-4 Ramblers—ninth in the nation on Ken Pomeroy’s ratings chart, which has 8-14 Valpo at No. 206—look like they’re playing in mud, and they draw every opponent into their sloppy, gloppy pigpen.
How Low Can You Go?
In particular, our expert rejoices when viewing what Loyola does to the other guys. Since Dec. 18, a 75-73 defeat to Richmond, only one Ramblers foe has registered more than 60 points—Indiana State did that in a 76-71 victory on Jan. 10.
Other than that anomaly, Loyola played 16 games, and all 16 of those opponents scored 60 points or fewer. Our insider has a shop in which he can specifically bet on a Loyola foe to score Under 60 points.
Indeed, the Ramblers allow an NCAA-low 56.4 points, which is two points stingier over their past three games. And their adjusted defensive efficiency of 86.7 also is the best in the land. Valparaiso’s is 101.2, smack in the middle of the country.
Six of Valpo’s past seven overall games have finished Under. Its previous eight road games have all finished Under, too. In four of its past five losses, Valpo scored 52, 51, 52 and 60 points, a recipe favoring the Ramblers.
And inside its own Athletics Recreation Center on Jan. 20, the Crusaders produced only 39 points in a wipeout defeat to Loyola.
Loyola loves to slow it down and be methodical on offense, deliberate, extremely patient. Its tempo is among the bottom-10-percentile in the country, so that’s the muddy foundation of its game.
The Crusaders are in the middle of the national pack in average possession length. More than 40% of their field-goal attempts are launched from behind the arc, among the top 25% rates in college hoops, but they connect on only 29.8% (313th in the country) of those 3-point attempts.
That’s a lot of negatives in a game in which every single point figures to be a struggle.
Further dampening Valpo’s long-range game is Loyola’s stellar 3-point defense, rated 41st in the country. Valpo also doesn’t have swingmen Connor Barrett or Nick Robinson, who combined to average 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds but are out for the season.
At Loyola, senior power forward Cameron Krutwig is the ringleader, its lone remaining player from the rousing 2017-18 Final Four squad who scored in the national-semifinal loss to Michigan.
Late in that ugly game Sunday, near the end of regulation and into the extra five minutes, Krutwig appeared very indecisive, often appearing hesitant to shoot or pass. Those pauses hurt both aspects of his game, as Drake easily picked it from him and his awkward shots bounced off the rim.
That hurts Loyola. In its four defeats this season, Krutwig committed more turnovers than assists. If he continues to launch errant shots, and the Crusaders are able to routinely pick his pocket, the Under will be even more of a likelihood here as the Ramblers produce empty possession after empty possession.