Sweet Sixteen Basketball Preview – Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs. Nevada Wolf Pack
In a game between two teams who may have surprised some people by getting this far, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers and the Nevada Wolf Pack will tangle in the Sweey Sixteen at Philips Arena in Atlanta, beginning at 7:07 PM ET on Thursday night. If you are a BetAnySports customer, you can get reduced juice, which gives you better value in the odds, and if you keep the action going after the opening tip, you can access Live Betting Ultra.
For Loyola, it has been a couple of thrillers, winning by two points against Miami and a single point against Tennessee, that has brought their record to 30-5 straight-up. This team is also a sizzling 22-9 against the basketball pointspread, and they are on a 12-game winning streak, which at the moment his longest in the nation. If you want a little history, this school won the national championship back in 1963, and in 1985, they reach the Sweet Sixteen, before losing to Georgetown.
Nevada does not necessarily have a storied basketball history, but they are real solid at the moment, and they have proven to be one of the most resilient teams in the tournament. The Wolf Pack, who won the regular season title in the Mountain West and then made it into the Big Dance as an at-large entry, first came back from a 14-point deficit in the second half against Texas to force overtime and then beat the Longhorns, and then they came back two days later, with a rotation that had to be tired (since they only go six-deep) and trailed by 22 points in the second half against Cincinnati, before roaring back to capture a victory. So they could also qualify as something of a Cinderella story here. They came in as the 7-seed, and they spent a lot of time in the Top 25 of the national rankings this season.
In the Sweet Sixteen basketball betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Nevada is the slight favorite:
Nevada Wolf Pack -1.5
Loyola-Chicago Ramblers +1.5
Over 142.5 points -110
Under 142.5 points -110
Eric Musselman is the coach at Nevada; he spent some time in the NBA as the head man as well. And it’s interesting, since he formerly coached the Golden State Warriors, that this team has something of a Warrior look, with a bunch of players around 6-6 or 6-7. That doesn’t necessarily make them very big underneath, but in this game they won’t have to be, since Loyola is not a team with a lot of height. But Nevada has versatile players, including Cody Martin, who has taken over the point guard position since Lindsay Drew ruptured his Achilles. And the Wolf Pack have maintained their position as the top team in offensive turnover percentage. That means they take care of the ball better than anybody else, and that was on display as they turned the over only twice against Cincinnati.
Nevada also gets triples – 9.6 per game, as a matter of fact, and they have a very industrious inside guy in Jordan Caroline, who averages 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. Caleb Martin might be the best player in the Mountain West, and is ticketed for the NBA. He is Cody’s twin brother. And Loyola’s perimeter defense will have to be on the lookout for Kendall Stephens, the Purdue transfer, who has a 44.4% from beyond the three-point arc.
Loyola is a very patient team and they work for a good shot, but they will not allow Nevada’s defense to sleep; Musselman’s team forces the opposition to use 18.1 seconds of the shot clock on average, and very few teams draw out possessions that much. Team chemistry is big for the Ramblers, as 60% of their field goals come by result of an assist, and four starters averaging in double figures. Coming off the bench is Aundre Jackson, who had 16 points against Tennessee, but he has a tendency to get himself into foul trouble, and at 6-5, he’ll have a tough defensive assignment against whoever is guarding him on the Nevada side. We really have to admire those comebacks on the part of Nevada, and it shows us they are a team that is very special. So in a moderate recommendation, we are going with the Wolf Pack in this one.
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