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Ohio State vs Loyola Chicago gets the day started at 12:15 pm. Here's what you can expect from this matchup.

Ohio State vs. Loyola Chicago Prediction: Can Loyola Chicago Stay Hot?

Loyola Chicago comes into the tournament with some good momentum off a fresh conference championship in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Ramblers went 25-7 this year and finished 13-5 in conference play. Ohio State, on the other hand, didn't finish so hot. The Buckeyes are 1-4 in their last five games, and three of those losses were to non-tournament teams. The books have this one as a toss-up, with the line sitting at a pick 'em. Can Loyola stay hot and advance to the second round, or will Ohio State get back on track at the right time?

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Ohio State vs. Loyola Chicago Prediction

Loyola works behind a solid defense and solid shooting. They are a well-balanced team that shoots seventh overall in effective field goal percentage and is 22nd overall in defensive efficiency. The offense runs through point guard Braden Norris and shooting guard Lucas Williamson, who combine to score just under 25 points per game and seven assists per game. Loyola is no stranger to neutral-site success, as they are 5-0 against the spread in their last five neutral-site games.

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This Loyola team also has upset experience. Last year, Loyola made the sweet 16 and beat number one seed Illinois in the process. Most of that same team is back this season.

One area Loyola matches up really well in is shooting behind the arc. Loyola is 14th in the nation in three-point percentage, and Ohio State is 216th in defending the perimeter. Although it's not just the perimeter, Ohio State just doesn't defend well overall.

Ohio State is only one of two power-five conference teams to make the tournament and have a defensive efficiency outside the top 120, the other being Miami. Ohio State limped across the line to finish the year, but they still have a talented offense that can give Loyola fits.

EJ Lidell is one of the best players in the nation right now, and he alone can keep Ohio State in this game. However, Ohio State will potentially be down a few key players in this contest. Meechie Johnson, Zed Key, and Kyle Young all missed the last game in which the Buckeyes lost to Penn State in the first round of the Big 10 tournament. Perhaps this is why they lost that game, given that the three leave a gaping hole in the offense. If the Buckeyes don't get any of the three, they could be in for another long game against a stellar defense.

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Then comes the rest versus rust debate. Loyola hasn't played in nearly two weeks after winning the conference tournament, and many people debate whether that's good or bad. I think it depends on the team and how they play. Loyola is a team that plays with a slow tempo and is solid defensively. I tend to think the excess time off matters more when teams play at a quick pace and rely on offense to get going, given that offense is harder to create than it is to play good defense.

Loyola is simply the more complete team today. Ohio State has looked too shaky down the stretch for me to trust them here. Perhaps it's the injuries, or their lack of defensive effort has caught up to them. If all three players (Johnson, Key, and Young) can't go for the Buckeyes today, that only strengthens my stance on this game. The Missouri Valley Conference has also gone 12-1 in first-round games over the last ten years. Maybe the MVC is being overlooked. Either way, Loyola Chicago seems to have the advantage on both ends of the court today and should take care of business. Take Sister Jean and the Ramblers to advance.

Ohio State vs. Loyola Chicago Line Movement

Ohio State vs. Loyola Chicago Pick

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Article Author


Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.


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