Loyola Chicago vs Ohio State Odds, Picks, and Predictions (03/18/22)

Sister Jean and the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago get ready to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes this Friday, March 18th, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. With their second straight Missouri Valley conference title, the Ramblers find themselves in back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1960s. Ohio State, meanwhile, looks to avenge their early departure from last year’s tournament after losing to 15 seed Oral Roberts in round one.

In Drew Valentine’s first season as head coach of Loyola Chicago, the Ramblers went 25-7 and beat every team in the Valley the last time they met. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have dropped 7 of their last 13 after starting off the season 6-2 in the Big 10 and beating Duke in November. Though these teams may be trending in opposite directions, it has been said that March is the great equalizer. We shall see.

Loyola Chicago vs Ohio State Betting Odds

Loyola Chicago Odds

Sister Jean and Blues Brothers references aside, this Loyola team is very much on brand with the Loyola teams we’ve grown accustomed to under Porter Moser. They slow the game down on offense with lots of cuts and passes, and force teams to take shots late in the shot clock with pesky, persistent defense. Fifth year seniors Aher Uguak and Lucas Williamson lead the charge on the defensive side of the ball. Both forwards have long arms and can guard all 5 positions, allowing them to switch around with ease. Williamson has been named back-to-back defensive player of the year in the Missouri Valley.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Ramblers have a balanced attack led by PG Braden Norris alongside Lucas Williamson. The two are the only one’s on the team to average above double figures, though Norris acts more as a distributor than a scorer. Princeton transfer Ryan Schweiger has been a big addition to the team, averaging 9.1 points per game and functioning as one of the team’s more efficient scorers.

Watch for Uguak and Cris Knight to play big roles in this one especially on the defensive side of the ball. Loyola has struggled this year against teams with skilled offensive big men. While both of Ohio State’s big men are on the IR right now, it appears they could very well play. If they do, Knight and Uguak are going to have their hands full on the defensive end. Look for both to play a lot of minutes.

Ohio State Odds

Ohio State looked like a surefire top 5 seed until mid February. Since then, they’ve lost a step defensively — allowing 75 or more points in 5 of their last 8 games. Ever since F Zed Key suffered an ankle injury in a loss to Maryland on Feb. 27, the Buckeyes have struggled defending high pick and rolls. While fifth year senior Kyle Young was able to step in and put a bandaid on the situation for a time, he has also been sidelined since suffering a concussion in a Mar. 1 loss to Nebraska.

Both big men have been listed as a gametime decision. Their health will play a huge factor in how this game goes — if either don’t play or are clearly fighting through pain, it’s going to make it much easier for Loyola on defense. If they appear healthy, Ohio State will be able to exploit a mismatch on the block.

Ohio State will also have the best player on the court in EJ Liddell. The forward from Bellville, IL is averaging nearly 20 points and 8 rebounds on the season. Going up against a team that likes to make guys work on offense, how easy Liddell has it on the offensive side of the ball will be a big factor in how this game shakes out. If he struggles, I love Loyola here.

Loyola Chicago vs Ohio State Picks & Prediction

Right now the spread is a pick ’em and, if that holds, I’d take the Ramblers. Liddel and Branham are great players, but this OSU team still feels like they lack an identity on offense. The jury is still out on Chris Holtman as a coach, and it appears that, at best, both of their big men are going to be banged up. Loyola, on the other hand, has a clear offensive identity and a veteran squad of players who have been here before. They are going to make Ohio State play at their pace, one of the slowest in the country, and force the Buckeyes to make tough shots to win. The Ramblers have the length on the perimeter to neutralize Ohio State’s wing players and can score a variety of ways on offense.

I like the under in this game as well at 132.5. This is going to be a defensive effort first and foremost with no true mismatches on either side. Ohio State would need to get hot, and I don’t see it happening.

March Madness Bracket

As a central Ohio native and lifelong Cleveland sports fan, Patrick Monnin has lived the emotional rollercoaster every sports fan knows all too well. Whether it be the Browns or the Buckeyes, he loves watching football and going on nice long runs in the afternoon. In the local Chicago area, where he now lives, he can often be found making the case for LeBron James as the greatest basketball player ever.

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