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Saturday, January 11 2:00 P.M. Joseph J. Gentile Center in Chicago, Illinois
This match up will take place between two teams with identical records. Loyola-Chicago and Illinois State both come in with a 9-7 record overall and a 2-1 record in conference. Illinois State picked up a 70-69 win over Northern Iowa in their last game. The win marked their second in a row. Loyola-Chicago is coming in off a losing effort against Evansville 67-48. The Rambles come in 7-8 ATS this season while Illinois State is 6-9. Illinois State has won six of the last ten meetings but Loyola-Chicago has had their number as of late. They have won the last three meetings with the Redbirds including two last season during their magical, Cinderella season. Illinois State’s Taylor Bruninga is questionable for this one with a foot injury.
Loyola-Chicago Goes Cold
The Ramblers will come into this game looking for a different outcome offensively. They were held to just 48 points in a blowout loss to Evansville. They fell behind 32-20 in the first half and that was too much to overcome. The second half saw them score 28 points. The Ramblers finished 39.3% from the field and 1-7 from three. They were out rebounded by nine in the game and had just six assists. Loyola-Chicago had three guys finish in double-figures led by Marques Townes with 14 points on 5-13 from the field. Five players finished the game with four or more missed field goal attempts. Franklin Agunanne came off the bench and was the only efficient player. He finished with 13 points on 5-5 shooting. They will look for a different result against Illinois State.
— Loyola Men's Basketball (@RamblersMBB) January 7, 2019
Townes leads the Ramblers in his season with 13.9 points per game. He has faced tough competition since high school. Townes graduated from St. Joe’s Metuchen where he was teammates with Karl Anthony-Towns and Wade Baldwin, both first round picks in the NBA. The Ramblers have been a stingy defensive team. They allow just 60.9 points per game to opponents which is good for 11th in the country. They have held opponents under 70 points in 12 games and under 50 points five times. There was a four-game stretch this season that the Ramblers allowed 46.3 points per game. Miraculously, they did not go 4-0. St. Joe’s beat them 45-42 in that loss. They have had their issues scoring the ball which will have to change in this one.
Illinois State Wins Late
The Redbirds held on for a 70-69 win in their last game against Northern Iowa. Illinois State hit a three to take a nine-point lead with three minutes left but Northern Iowa did not quit. They came back with a three of their own, a steal and a layup to pull within four. After a stop, Northern Iowa cut it to two with 24 seconds left and it became a free throw battle. Illinois State would win that battle knocking down three of their last four free throws to seal the win. The Redbirds were outrebounded by seven and hit less three’s in the game but they shot better from the field and forced 14 turnovers. Milik Yarbrough led the way with 23 points for Illinois State. Phil Fayne contributed 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the win. He was 8-10 from the field.
— Redbird Productions (@Redbird_Pro) January 9, 2019
Close games are nothing new for the Redbirds. They are 5-0 in games decided by five or less points. This is about foul shooting and leadership. Yarbrough leads the team with 16.7 points per game and Fayne is right behind him at 15.8 per game. Both are seniors and provide the leadership that it takes to hold on in tight games. As a team, they shoot 70% from the free throw line. Making free throws down the stretch is the difference between wins and losses more times than it’s not. They average 72.8 points per game. That number is not incredibly high and they are facing a Rambler team that is stout defensively.
- Ramblers are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games after scoring less than 50 points in their previous game
- Ramblers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Ramblers are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 vs. Missouri Valley
- Under is 9-2 in Ramblers last 11 home games
- Redbirds are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
- Redbirds are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win
- Redbirds are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games
- Under is 7-3 in Redbirds last 10 road game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Ramblers will be home in this one. They are coming off a season where they made a Final Four run as one of the great Cinderella teams in the country. They are 6-3 in front of their home fans that show up to every game looking for some more magic. More importantly, Illinois State is winless on the road.The Redbirds are 0-4 in games played away from their home. Loyola-Chicago has the experience of last season on the court and from their coach on the sideline. Experience and home-court advantage give them a significant edge in this game. They should be able to win this game outright while covering the spread.
Full-Game Total Pick
This under has a lot of factors behind it. The Ramblers are one of the best defensive teams in the country. Neither team has been scoring at a consistent rate. A lot of Loyola-Chicago games have been played as low as scores in the 40’s. It is uncertain if either team will be able to score enough consistently to hit any kind of over. For this game to be close at the end, there will need to be defense and stops. Teams should miss enough shots to hit this under and hit it comfortably.