College Basketball Mid-Major Betting Report: Breaking Down Loyola Chicago, BYU & North Texas
Photo by Chris Kohley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Lucas Williamson (Loyola Chicago)
As the culmination of the college basketball regular season quickly approaches, multiple mid-major teams have a chance to earn at-large bids, while some of the lower-major teams must win their respective tournaments.
I will break down three squads that have strong shots at reaching the Big Dance — and eventually making noise if they indeed get there.
|Current Overall Record||21-6|
|Current ESPN Bracketology Seed||11|
Loyola Chicago is approaching its favorite month of the year. This time, if it reaches the NCAA Tournament, it will be without Porter Moser (now at Oklahoma) and Cameron Krutwig (graduated).
Regardless, the Ramblers need to be taken seriously — yet again.
The Ramblers’ biggest strength comes from beyond the 3-point line, as they are shooting 37.8% on the season.
This kind of success can propel a team through multiple rounds of the Big Dance, and given the postseason experience on this particular squad, it could become a reality.
The Ramblers have two talents who are as efficient as college players can be from downtown. Lucas Williamson and Braden Norris are shooting 41.2% and 43.1% from deep, respectively, this season, and each has over 120 attempts.
Here’s an example of what Norris can do from the point guard position, even while covered tightly.
— Loyola Men's Basketball (@RamblersMBB) February 22, 2022
Ryan Schwieger, Aher Uguak and Tate Hall also are solid shooting options.
If Loyola can catch an opponent in the first round that lacks the defensive wherewithal to defend the deep shot, it could very well move onto the Round of 32.
They are well-rounded on the defensive end, but they do not have the height to keep up with some teams. If they were to match up with Illinois again, Kofi Cockburn could burn them without Krutwig down on the block.
The same would go for Purdue and Zach Edey, or UConn and Adama Sanogo.
These are just a few examples, so the height disadvantage could be a hindrance to their success in the tournament this season.
|Current Overall Record||19-9|
|Current ESPN Bracketology Seed||First 4 Out|
At the moment, BYU finds itself on the outside looking in for the Big Dance.
It’s now being reported that Seneca Knight is having issues with his hand, so the Cougars are taking another injury hit at an inopportune moment.
They control their own destiny, though, and with a noteworthy victory — or two — in the WCC Tournament, they could easily land back in the field of 68.
The Cougars can shoot 3s, as they drill 35.6% of their attempts from downtown.
Much of this success comes from Alex Barcello, as the veteran point guard is shooting over 46% from 3-point distance on the season.
This is not the Cougars’ only long-range option, though. Trevin Knell, Gideon George and Te’Jon Lucas all shoot above the 34% mark, as well.
The Cougars have almost been in free fall against KenPom top-200 teams.
Also, they have lost five of their last seven games overall, and their only two wins have come against Loyola Marymount in overtime and Pepperdine, which they only beat by six points.
One of the reasons for this is they have faltered on the offensive end with turnovers. They rank ninth out of 10 teams in the WCC in turnover rate in conference play at 19.8%.
BYU will need to clean these mistakes up if it wants to make noise in the conference tournament. If the Cougars do not, they could be left out of the Field of 68.
|Current Overall Record||20-4|
|Current ESPN Bracketology Seed||12|
North Texas is one of the most interesting mid-major squads in the nation.
This team ranks dead last in adjusted tempo, per KenPom. They are 15-6-1 on unders this season, so they dictate the pace of play against virtually any opponent.
Since they limit how many overall possessions take place in a game, they can do some damage in March.
This defense is phenomenal. The Mean Green are 13-1 in Conference USA play for a reason, and it is attributable to the defensive side of the ball. They have not lost a game since Jan. 8, and much of this is due to how they guard on the perimeter.
The Mean Green rank ninth in opponent 3-point percentage this season (28.7%). With modern basketball and the reliance on the 3-ball dominating college hoops, this is even more impactful going into competition versus tougher, higher-level conferences in the NCAA Tournament.
The Mean Green also shoot over 37% from downtown themselves, so they have some offensive threats.
Tylor Perry is a name to watch in the conference tournament — and the NCAA Tournament for that matter, if they make it.
ONE. POINT. GAME.
— Stadium (@Stadium) February 19, 2022
This team is abysmal at the free throw line and struggles to find interior scoring options when it isn’t making 3s.
The Mean Green shoot 66.8% from the strike, which as most college basketball fans know, is pivotal come tournament play. They will need to knock those freebies down in order to have a chance to make a Cinderella run.
Who knows, though, maybe their pace of play can bore opponents enough into making mistakes on however few possessions they actually have against North Texas, anyways.