College Basketball Odds & Picks for Loyola Chicago vs. Northern Iowa: How to Bet This Mid-Major Duel
Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Lucas Williamson and AJ Green.
- Loyola Chicago and Northern Iowa duel in a MVC clash.
- The Ramblers play a slow game, so expect the total to be in play.
- Keg breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
Loyola Chicago vs. Northern Iowa Odds
|Loyola Chicago Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Northern Iowa Odds|
-110o / -110u
What a turnaround it’s been for the Northern Iowa Panthers, who have lost just three games since starting the season 4-7. They are now in a position to win the Missouri Valley Conference outright on Saturday Night.
But to complete the historic turnaround, they’ll need to get past the current leader in Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers are not only the best team in the MVC but they handed the Panthers their worst loss of the season when they hosted them just 13 days ago. Loyola hit 63% from the floor and 51% from deep in the 27-point route at home.
It also wasn’t some fluke “can’t-miss-a-shot” game for Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers have outscored opponents by an average of 17.7 points over their last three games. The highlight of that stretch was their last contest, where they posted one of the most dominating performances I can ever recall seeing in college basketball as they beat Evansville by 51 (FIFTY-ONE) points.
Meanwhile, the Panthers haven’t lost a game since, but they aren’t beating teams by 50 either. Northern Iowa has covered the spread in just two of its last five games. The Panthers nearly lost their last contest to Indiana State, given the Sycamores were the hottest team in the conference coming into that game. They also only beat Illinois State by just two; the Redbirds and the Sycamores are two of the bottom-three teams in the conference at the end of the day.
This game for all the marbles will be at home, unlike their first loss to Loyola and the losses to Indiana State and Illinois State. The Panthers faithful stand an excellent chance to play a factor as well, having sold out the game.
— UNI Basketball (@UNImbb) February 25, 2022
But will it be enough to put a stop to the steamrolling Ramblers offense? Ending their time in the Missouri Valley as winners would be about right; they have won four of the last six regular-season titles. Can Loyola take the regular-season championship hardware to the Atlantic 10 with it?
Loyola has won its last regular-season game in every one of the previous four seasons. If it can extend that streak to five, it will be the third team since 2000 to win four MVC championships over a five-year span.
I don’t believe either of the previous teams got that fourth championship under a first-year head coach. If the Ramblers can pull it off, Drew Valentine will tie Tom Haggerty for the most wins by a first-year Loyola dead coach at 23.
The Ramblers made quick work of the Panthers in their first meeting, which they did without Marquise Kennedy, who hasn’t played since Feb. 2. And no disrespect to Kennedy, but I’m not too concerned with his status. During his absence, Lucas Williamson has stepped up in a big way, averaging 20 points, four rebounds and 4.5 assists over the last six games.
Loyola’s offense has been dominant throughout the year, and I expect that to continue against the Panthers, who have been less than impressive on defense.
However, the Ramblers defense will need to be their primary focus. They did a fantastic job in the first meeting, but I doubt they can hold Northern Iowa to 58 at home with the regular-season title on the line.
They do have the upper hand when it comes to defending shots and creating turnovers. They’ll need to do well in both areas in what I expect to be a much closer, hard-fought game.
Not only does this game decide who wins the regular conference season, but it’s also senior night for four Panthers, so no pressure. UNI will honor seniors Trae Berhow, Tywhon Pickford, Austin Phyfe and AJ Green.
Speaking of Green, he picked up his third Player of the Week honors following his performance against Missouri State and Illinois State last week. Green leads the MVC in points per game, putting up 20.5 per contest. He makes more three-pointers than anyone else in the Missouri Valley while being second in 3PT%.
Green isn’t the only one who threatens from deep. As a team, the Panthers are hitting 35% outside the arc, while 34% of their points come from beyond the three-point line.
On defense, however, the Panthers are anything but threatening. Northern Iowa allows opposing teams to hit 55% on two-point shots while also being the fourth-worst team in the country regarding opponent point distribution from deep.
Almost no one is giving up more three-point attempts than Northern Iowa. That’s not ideal against Loyola, who leads the MVC in threes made per game at 8.9 as a team.
Loyola Chicago vs. Northern Iowa Betting Pick
These teams have been lethal on the offensive end, combining to average 148.9 points per game. But what’s more important to me is their three-point shooting and their attempt at defending it. Loyola is 11th in the country when it comes to 3P% but is outside the top 200 in defending it.
Northern Iowa has been average in shooting percentage and defense, but it takes a lot of threes, a big reason why I think it’ll find success of its own.
Loyola has had many things fall its way, while also being incredibly hot shooting the ball. But who’s to say that won’t continue?
I don’t see UNI getting blown out as it did in the first game. Because of that, I’m focusing on the total in this matchup.
Yes, Loyola plays a slow game, but it’s still been so influential on offense that it is 16-11 on over/unders this year. Northern Iowa is 16-10 on totals itself, and despite scoring just 58 in the first meeting, the two teams still combined for 143.
I think this game is not only closer but could turn into a shootout.