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Loyola-Chicago vs. Miami - NCAA First Round - 3/15/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (28-5) vs. Miami Hurricanes (22-9)

College Basketball: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 3:10 pm (American Airlines Arena)

The Line: Miami Hurricanes -2.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: TruTV

We have some NCAA tournament first round action out of the South region as the #11 seed Loyola-Chicago Ramblers take on the #6 seed Miami Hurricanes in a college basketball matchup on Thursday. 

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers come into the tournament as a #11 seed, representing the Missouri Valley Conference as the conference’s regular season and tournament champion with a 28-5 overall record this season. The Ramblers no doubt had an easier time navigating through the MVC with perennial powerhouse Wichita State moving to the AAC, finishing conference play with a 15-3 MVC mark, with tournament wins over Northern Iowa, Bradley and Illinois State en route to the conference tournament title. The Ramblers also posting some solid outings in non-conference play, outside of a 34-point loss at Boise State, Loyola-Chicago added victories over UIC along with fellow tournament teams in Wright State and possibly the best win of their season, a 65-59 road victory over Florida who reached the big dance as a #6 seed. Donte Ingram led the Ramblers with an average of 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while Marques Townes leads the Ramblers in assists with 2.4 assists per game this season. As a team, Loyola-Chicago is scoring 72.4 points per game on 50.7% shooting from the field, the 3rd-best field goal percentage in the country, along with 39.8% from behind the arc and 72.4% from the foul line this season. The Ramblers are also extremely tight defensively, giving up just 62.2 points per game this season, the 5th fewest in D-I. 

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Loyola-Chicago vs. Miami - NCAA First Round - 3/15/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes received an at-large bid to the big dance as a #6 seed thanks to a 22-9 overall record including an 11-7 mark in ACC play that was good for the #3 seed in the conference tournament, with the Hurricanes receiving a double-bye and falling in the quarterfinals to #6 seed and conference tournament runner-up, North Carolina. Miami had a couple solid wins of their own, taking down Minnesota on the road before the Golden Gophers really started to struggle and a neutral site win over what many consider to be a massive tournament snub in 24-win Middle Tennessee State. The Hurricanes had their share of close calls down the stretch, winning their last 4 games of the season, however all 4 wins came by 3 points or less, including a 91-88 thriller on the road at UNC. Lonnie Walker leads the ‘Canes in scoring with 11.5 points per game while Ja’Quan Newton leads Miami in assists with 2.7 assists per game and Dewan Huell leads the Hurricanes in rebounding with 6.6 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Miami is scoring 74.2 points per game on 46.4% shooting from the field, 36.3% from behind the arc and 66.3% from the foul line this season.

Loyola-Chicago is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games against a team with a winning record and 14-4 ATS in their last 18 non-conference games while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 games overall. Miami is 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 NCAA tournament games while the under is 9-2-1 in their last 12 neutral site games. 

I think if there was a double digit seed to look out for in this tournament, it would be the Ramblers as they can flat out shoot the basketball and have been very tight defensively, not to mention they finished the season on a 10-game winning streak. Miami is rested, but that's because they suffered an early exit from the ACC tournament, something that I'm sure Coach Larranaga has drilled into his players over the last week. All in all, I think the Ramblers are the team in better form here, and on a neutral floor, have enough to take down Miami here, so I'll back Loyola-Chicago and take the free bucket

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