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Loyola of Chicago at Valparaiso
When and Where: Sunday, Feb. 10, Athletics-Recreation Center, Valparaiso, Ind., 4 p.m. EST.
Little has come easy for Loyola of Chicago after its stunning run to the Final Four last March, but the Ramblers could be two games clear of the Missouri Valley Conference field with a win at Valparaiso on Sunday and a little bit of help.
Ramblers look to avoid third straight Valley road loss
Loyola (15-9, 8-3 MVC) will need to successfully defend its Missouri Valley tournament title in order to return to the field of 68 since it lacks a signature non-conference victory.
The Ramblers, though, have won six of their last eight games after drilling Drake 86-64 on Tuesday night. Marques Townes hit all four of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high 32 points, keying an effort in which Loyola made 10 of 14 shots from beyond the arc and shot 55.4 percent overall.
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— Loyola Men's Basketball (@RamblersMBB) February 6, 2019
That efficient shooting has been Loyola’s M.O. in getting to the top of the Valley standings. The Ramblers have shot 50 percent or better in their eight league wins and 40 percent or worse in their three defeats.
Townes, who is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, is averaging a team-high 15.3 points while sophomore center Cameron Krutwig is contributing 14.5 per contest while shooting an MVC-best 65.3 percent.
Loyola has won all three games against Valparaiso since the Crusaders joined the Valley last season and shot 53.3 percent from 3-point range and overall in a 71-54 win last month as six players reached double figures.
Valpo looking to tighten Valley standings with win
The Crusaders (13-11, 6-5) have a chance to close within one game of the Ramblers with a victory that would give them a split of the season series.
Valparaiso snapped a four-game skid with a vital 69-53 win at Illinois State on Tuesday night as freshman Javon Freeman had a breakout game with a season-high 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting. He hit 4 of 6 from 3-point range as the Crusaders reached double figures in treys made for just the third time on the season by hitting 10 of 23.
— Valpo Basketball (@ValpoBasketball) February 6, 2019
“I’m extremely proud of the effort of our team,” said Valpo coach Matt Lottich to the Pantagraph. “It’s not a secret to anyone in the league that we’re banged up and have our backs to the wall, and no one is feeling sorry for us. We’re trying to take one step at a time and one day at a time and trying to get healthy at the same time and get better.”
Derrik Smits added 16 points as the Crusaders are again expected to be without swingman Ryan Fazekas, who averages 12.7 points and has missed the last eight games with an ankle injury. Smits, a 7-foot-1 center who averages 12.3 points on 58.5 percent shooting, also missed a game due to injury.
The Crusaders are hoping Tuesday night’s win snapped an offensive funk in which they failed to reach 60 points during their four-game skid. They have shot under 40 percent in losing back-to-back home games after winning their first three there in Valley play.
- 3-8 ATS in its last 11 home games.
- 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games following an ATS win.
- 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games following a straight up win.
- No trends of note.
Loyola of Chicago is:
- 20-9 ATS in its last 29 games vs. MVC opponents.
- 4-0 ATS in its last four road games vs. Valparaiso.
- 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as a road favorite.
- The over is 4-1 in its last five games as a favorite.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
While Freeman’s performance is impressive for Valparaiso, it is difficult for a freshman to sustain that type of effort into a second consecutive game. And facing a Ramblers team that looks to be rounding into form in terms of cohesion and offensive efficiency, the defending champs are the pick here to keep the rest of the Valley at arm’s length.
Prediction: Pick: Loyola of Chicago -3
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a pick against the number more than an expectation in what the teams will do. Loyola is simply too efficient offensively to be held down in this game to such a point where it will be closer to 60 as opposed to 70 as one would expect for this game.
The Crusaders are inconsistent offensively, but they should have just enough juice to help the over hit — even without Fazekas. This number has dipped below 120 in the overnight, and it seems unlikey both teams will fail to reach 60 in this contest.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 119.5 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
There is little hesitation on taking the Ramblers here despite failing to score more than 57 points in their last two conference road games and being held to 35 at Missouri State on Jan. 23. But Loyola did score 71 in the first meeting between the teams and has shot better more often than it has shot poorly of late and should clear this number.
Prediction: Pick: Loyola of Chicago OVER 61.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
This is a confidence pick in the Ramblers coming off a strong-shooting performance and having led by 10 at halftime in the first meeting. Valpo has not led in its last two home games after 20 minutes, and again, it is hard to envision Freeman popping off for another strong game.
Prediction: Pick: Loyola -1.5
Half-Time Total Bet
This is a hedge the teams get right to the number before coming up just short. They combined for 56 in the first meeting in Chicago, and neither has distinguished itself well in their roles of late. The Ramblers have scored 25 or less in three of their last four Valley road games while the Crusaders have been held to 26 or less in three of their five at home.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 55.5 points
Half-Time Prop Prediction
In addition to scoring just 23 in the first half of the first meeting, Valpo has scored 26 or fewer points in five of its last seven home games and topped 31 more than once. This may be where Fazekas’ inside-out game is missed most for the Crusaders.
Prediction: Pick: Valparaiso UNDER 27 points