Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (22-5 SU, 15-7-1 ATS, 11-12 O/U) vs. Evansville Purple Aces (16-12 SU, 14-9-1 ATS, 8-15-1 O/U)
NCAAB: Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. EST
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers have won four games in a row heading into a road date with the Evansville Purple Aces at the Ford Center on Sunday afternoon. Loyola-Chicago is coming off consecutive victories over Missouri State, Drake, Indiana State, and Valparaiso. The Purple Aces have dropped two straight at the hands of Missouri State and Northern Iowa.
The red-hot Ramblers can clinch at least a share of its first-ever Missouri Valley Conference title and its first conference title of any kind since 1986-87 when it travels to Evansville on Sunday. Loyola-Chicago is 12-3 in the MVC (22-5 overall) thanks in part to a 5-1 record in its last six road contests (3-0 in its last three away from home). The Ramblers most recently took care of business at home, beating Valparaiso 80-71 on Wednesday and thus improving to 11-1 in their last 12 outings. Clayton Custer continued his fine form with 20 points, while Donte Ingram scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 6:38 of the game.
Aundre Jackson, the 2016-17 Missouri Valley Conference Sixth Man of the Year, has also been key for Loyola-Chicago. Jackson is averaging 11.9 ppg while making 63.4 percent (109-for-172) of his shots from the floor and 46.9 percent (15-for-32) of his three-point attempts in victories. The 6’5” senior forward scored 18 points against Evansville on Dec. 30 and has reached double-figures in three of the Ramblers’ last four outings. He recently contributed 15 points at Illinois State to help Loyola-Chicago to its first win at Redbird Arena since 1991.
Far lower down in the Missouri Valley Conference standings at 6-9 (16-12 overall), Evansville is coming off a pair of road losses. The Purple Aces tried to battle back from a 15-point deficit midway through the second half at Northern Iowa on Wednesday and cut that margin to as little as two points before ultimately falling short in a 47-41 defensive struggle that went the Panthers’ way. Ryan Taylor turned in another impressive performance for the Aces, scoring 26 points on 11-for-23 shooting in 39 minutes of work. As that number indicates, however, the rest of Evansville’s entire team combined for a mere 15 points. Only three players scored more than two points and nobody else finished with more than five. Northern Iowa won despite shooting a horrendous 27.8 percent and failing to make a single field goal in the last 10:16 of the contest. Evansville did not attempt a single free-throw for the first time in its Division I history (since 1977). Wednesday marked the second time Evansville has scored 41 points or less this season; it is the first time the program has endured multiple games with 41 or less since 2001-02.
Taylor holds the MVC scoring lead with 21.4 points per game while averaging a 34.7 minutes per contest (third in the league). He has delivered 20-point performances in 11 of his last 16 games and 15 times overall this season.
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are:
- 7-2 Under in their last nine road games
- 7-2 Under in their last nine road games against teams with winning home records
- 5-1 Under in their last six road games against teams with home winning percentages over .600
The Evansville Purple Aces are:
- 4-1 Under in their last five overall
- 4-0 Under in their last four games against teams with winning records
- 6-0 Under in their last six games against teams with winning percentages over .600
The Ramblers rank 12th in the nation in scoring defense at 63.6 ppg. Since Jan. 1, Loyola-Chicago has allowed just 61.0 ppg–a figure that ranks tied for fifth in the country during this stretch. UIC should have no trouble producing more of the same against an Evansville team that has combined for a grand total of 96 points in its last two outings (55 and 41). The under is 7-2 in the Ramblers’ last nine on the road, 7-2 in their last nine on the road against opponents with winning home records, 5-1 in their last six on the road against opponents with home winning percentages over .600, and 4-1 in their last five on Sundays. It is also 4-1 in the Purple Aces’ last five overall, 4-0 in their last four against winning opponents, 6-0 in their last six against opponents with winning percentages over .600, and 6-2 in their last eight following a loss. Look for this one to stay under the total.