The No. 8 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (26-4, 19-2 MVC) is hardly a “Cinderella” at this point. Sure, they’re still a high seed, but that might be more of a disrespect thing from tournament committee members than anything else. A truer Cinderella, at least in the context of this season, is the No. 12 Oregon State Beavers (19-12, 13-10 Pac 12), who have compiled a pair of double-digit victories as underdogs to open the tournament.
Free Picks: Loyola Chicago Ramblers vs Oregon State Beavers
Loyola Chicago, Oregon State hit the court in captivating battle of the underdogs
We can still call the No. 8 Loyola Ramblers an underdog, but they’ve definitely shed the “Cinderella” label. Sure, Sister Jean’s favorite team pulled off an unlikely upset of No. 1 Illinois last weekend, but they are much more on-the-radar than the 2018 team that reached the Final Four as an 11-seed.
In this particular season, they were also more known and respected entering March Madness than the No. 12 Oregon State Beavers, who have been playing must-win basketball for five consecutive games. The Beavers had to win the Pac 12 tournament just to secure an NCAA tournament bid (which they did), and then they had to beat the 4th and 5th-seeded teams (which they did as well). All told, Oregon State has five in a row straight up as underdogs, and they’ve won six of their past seven with the same distinction. This team has defied the odds over and over again.
On Saturday, the Beavers will have to find some more magic as underdogs again, giving 6.5 points on the spread (-105 at Betway) against the Ramblers on the latest NCAA basketball odds. Loyola Chicago is at home as a favorite, as last weekend’s game against Illinois was just their second instance this year serving as an underdog (the other was on Dec. 15 at Wisconsin).
And it makes sense, given how ravenous this Ramblers defense has been. They rank first in NCAA Division I in adjusted defensive efficiency, second in offensive rebound rate allowed and 45th in both effective field goal percentage allowed and turnover rate.
Oregon State’s offense isn’t much of match for that (the Beavers are 216th in D-I in effective field goal percentage at 48.9%), but they’ve made it work to get this far. Against No. 5 Tennessee, Oregon State shot 10-of-21 (47.6%) from three-point range. Two days later, against Oklahoma State, they sunk a staggering 32 of 35 free throws (91.4%).
The thing is, Loyola Chicago doesn’t allow teams to shoot many free throws (only 36 combined for its past four opponents). And good luck trying to shoot like that from deep on this team. We think Oregon State’s luck has run out, which is why we like Loyola Chicago on the point spread (-115 at Betway) in our BetPicks prediction.
- Loyola Chicago is 6-4 ATS in its past 10 games
- The UNDER has cashed in seven of the Ramblers’ past eight games
- Oregon State is 9-1 ATS in its past 10 games
- The OVER has cashed in seven of the Beavers’ past eight games
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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).
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