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Sunday NCAA Tournament Odds & Pick for Illinois vs. Loyola Chicago: Betting Value on Total in Showdown (March 21)

Sunday NCAA Tournament Odds & Pick for Illinois vs. Loyola Chicago: Betting Value on Total in Showdown (March 21) article feature image

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Ayo Dosunmu.

  • Illinois faces in-state opponent Loyola Chicago on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
  • The Fighting Illini have been one of the hottest teams in the country as of late, but the Ramblers are one of the most underrated teams in the tournament.
  • Check out Andrew Norton's full betting guide complete with updated odds and a pick below.

Illinois vs. Loyola Chicago Odds

Illinois Odds -7
Loyola Chicago Odds +7
Moneyline -315 / +255
Over/Under 133
Time | TV Sunday, 12:10 p.m. ET | CBS
Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings.

As expected, Loyola Chicago and Illinois will move on to the Round of 32 and face each other in a seemingly premature matchup amongst two fantastic teams.

On Selection Sunday, Loyola heard its name called and peered up to see it had been assigned a No. 8 seed in the same region that the hottest team in America is playing in.

Unfortunately for the Ramblers, the committee decided that despite advanced analytics, which prove they are an elite squad, they would still be punished for being a mid-major squad with a weaker strength of schedule.

Regardless, this matchup is happening, and it will be an absolute bloodbath.

The consensus expectation for the game is that it will be a defensive-minded battle, but there will still be quite a few points scored.

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Illinois Fighting Illini

As of today, the Fighting Illini are the best team in the nation. It has become evident to me and, hopefully, to you watching as well.

They have what feels like a limitless amount of weapons on the offensive end.

These weapons include an absolute monster in Kofi Cockburn, a graceful, pure scorer in Ayo Dosunmu, and a fabulous freshman who is coming into his own in Andre Curbelo.

Other offensive options are their sniper senior guard, Trent Frazier, and freshman top-30 recruit Adam Miller, who has certainly shown glimpses of his high upside.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Loyola has the best defense in the tournament, ranking second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

Additionally, it allows the least amount of points in the nation at 55.8 points per game.

Its anchor on that end of the floor is clearly Lucas Williamson, who has an aptitude for locking up the opposing team’s best player. That can cause issues for teams that lean on one player, but Illinois certainly does not have to do that.

The Ramblers took care of an injury-riddled Georgia Tech team yesterday, despite a slow start, by a score of 71-60.

The Yellow Jackets were missing senior center Moses Wright, who happens to also be the ACC Player of the Year — a tough break, to say the least.

Loyola Chicago has Sister Jean, her magic, and some senior players who were freshmen when it went to the Final Four.

This team’s tournament experience makes it dangerous.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Georgia Tech has the 26th-highest adjusted offensive efficiency rating, so holding it to only 60 points was a great success for the Ramblers.

However, the Yellow Jackets were without the ACC Player of the Year, who averages 17.4 points per game.

This game will be different, though, because Illinois is a much better offensive team (eighth in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom).

It’s also fully healthy and not missing anyone unexpectedly.

In the Fighting Illini’s past nine games, which they have won eight of, they have averaged 82 points per game. They also have given up an average of 70.1 points to opposing teams.

Additionally, in those past nine games, eight of the total scores have been over where the current line is at (133) for this game.

Now, playing against Loyola Chicago is a whole other beast because it’s a defensive guru.

The most similar team defensively to Loyola in that stretch of games for Illinois would be Michigan, which ranks seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

In that game, the Fighting Illini scored 76 points, which is a fairly strong offensive outing.

Ultimately, I’m anticipating both teams to step up to the plate and produce great results on both ends of the floor.

But great offense beats great defense every time, so Illinois will have no issue putting up points. Whether or not the Ramblers keep up is on them.

Pick: Over 133 (up to 135).

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