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Loyola Ramblers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Preview

After a really fun first round of basketball, the second round of the NCAA tournament gets underway on Sunday. One interesting matchup comes in the Midwest region, where it will be an intrastate showdown as the No. 8 seeded Loyola Ramblers (25-4) take on the No. 1 seeded Illinois Fighting Illini (24-6). The game will take place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with tipoff scheduled for 12:10 pm ET.

After winning the Missouri Valley Tournament with a 75-65 win over Drake, the Ramblers continued their solid play with a 71-60 win over No. 9 Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In the victory, Lucas Williamson led the way for the Ramblers with 21 points and six rebounds. They will look to upset the top-seeded Illini on Sunday.

Speaking of the Illini, they have now won nine straight games. After winning the Big Ten conference tournament last Sunday, they were able to take down Drexel, 78-49, on Friday. In the win, Illinois had four players who scored double digits, with Kofi Cockburn (18 points) and Ayo Dosunmu (17 points, 11 rebounds) having the biggest games for Illinois.

Illinois is the favorite in this one. They are -300 to win while the Ramblers’ moneyline sits at +245. The spread features Loyola +7, with the over/under set at 133.5.

By The Numbers

Offensively, Illinois has been one of the best teams in the country. They rank 10th in scoring averaging 81.4 points per game (87.7 over their last three). Loyola ranks 169th, averaging 70.5 points.

Defensively, Loyola ranks atop the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 55.8 points per game to opponents. Illinois falls to 127th, allowing an average of 69.2 points.

Loyola Trying To Compete For Best In State

The Fighting Illini have gotten a ton of publicity for their strong play this season, but Loyola is out to prove that there is another Illinois team that can turn some heads. After showing they were the best in the Missouri Valley throughout the regular season, they would love to upset Illinois and take the claim as best in the state.

Leading the way for the Ramblers this season is senior center Cameron Krutwig. This season, he is averaging 14.9 points on 58.1% shooting. He is also averaging 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game.

Krutwig is actually the only Rambler averaging double digits. Other contributors include Lucas Williamson (8.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals), Braden Norris (8.4 points, 3.1 assists), Keith Clemson (7.5 points), and Aher Uguak (7.5 points, 4.2 rebounds).

Illinois Can’t Overlook Loyola On Road To Final Four

The Illini have their sights set on a national championship, but they can’t get complacent along the way. With such a stingy defense and a capable offense, Loyola is exactly the type of team that can pull off a major upset. Head coach Brad Underwood will make sure that his squad is focused as they enter Sunday’s game.

The Illini have a two-headed monster in guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn. Dosunmu is averaging 20.6 points per game this season. He is also averaging 6.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals.

Filling up the lane for the Illini is center Kofi Cockburn. The big man is averaging 17.6 points on 65.7% shooting. He is also averaging 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

One of the most impressive parts of Illinois’ game is their depth. Trent Frazier (10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals), Andre Curbelo (9.1 points, four rebounds, 4.1 assists), and Adam Miller (8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds) have all been solid for the Illini this season.

Illinois To Win And Cover

Loyola has to get a lot of credit for how well they have played this season, and the level of defense they play is suffocating. Still, they haven’t faced an offense at the level of Illinois. With Dosunmu, Cockburn, and the unbelievable depth of the Illini, the Ramblers will have a tough time keeping up. Take Illinois to both win and cover the seven-point spread.

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