College Basketball Odds & Pick for Loyola-Chicago vs. Bradley: Back Ramblers To Cover on Sunday
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Porter Moser.
- The top of the Missouri Valley Conference is up in the air, making Sunday's game between Loyola-Chicago and Bradley an important affair.
- The Braves will be without two key contributors and have to have a hot shooting day if they want to stick with the Ramblers.
- Mike Randle lays out how he's betting this game below.
Loyola-Chicago vs. Bradley Odds
With Northern Iowa’s recent struggles, the battle for supremacy in the Missouri Valley Conference is wide open.
Two contenders meet on Sunday, with Loyola-Chicago (second in preseason poll) traveling south to Peoria for a matchup with Bradley (third in preseason poll).
The Braves enter this game shorthanded, so can Loyola-Chicago earn an impressive road win against one the top teams in the conference?
The centerpiece of the Loyola-Chicago offense is 6-foot-9, 255-pound center Cameron Krutwig. The senior earned preseason All-Missouri Valley honors, and is averaging 15 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 61.4% from the field.
Krutwig has scored double-digit points in 11 of the Ramblers’ last 12 games and is yet to accumulate more than three fouls in a game.
Head coach Porter Moser’s offense has been operating as a strong overall unit. In Missouri Valley play, the Ramblers are shooting 61.2% from inside the arc and shooting 37.5% from 3-point range. Guards Lucas Williamson (41.5% 3-point) and Braden Norris (41%) serve as the foundation for the outside balance to Krutwig’s interior presence.
Loyola-Chicago’s interior defense makes it difficult for opponents to find consistent scoring. The Ramblers rank first in conference play in 2-point defensive efficiency, holding opponents to just 41.4% from inside the arc. Their only MVC loss came at Indiana State when the Sycamores shot a blistering 44.4% (8-of-18) from beyond the arc.
In order to stay competitive, the Braves are going to have to generate points from deep. Fortunately, Bradley has several solid options from deep, including senior Elijah Childs (33.3% 3-point), junior Terry Nolan (34.8%) and UMass transfer Sean East (35.9%).
However, Bradley will be missing two key interior pieces against the Ramblers. Junior 7-foot-1 forward Ari Boya (5.6 points, 6.6 rebounds) is out with a foot injury, and forward Ja’Shon Henry (11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) is still dealing with the effects of a concussion suffered in practice.
Without Boya and Henry, the Braves struggled at Illinois State, losing 71-56. They committed 14 turnovers and were outrebounded by the Redbirds, 39-36.
That bodes poorly against the Ramblers, who rank 15th in the country in defensive rebounding efficiency and third-best in offensive boards in conference play (KenPom).
The Braves have struggled all season at defending the 3-point line, allowing opponents to shoot a robust 38.8% from beyond the arc in conference play.
Bradley’s MVC opponents have generated a whopping 48.1% of their points from beyond the arc. This is also a rough matchup against the Ramblers, who rank 56th in the nation in 3-point accuracy (37%).
Bradley will rely on Childs (14.6 points), Nolan (11.8 points), East (8.5 points), and the streaky Ville Tahvanainen (8.2 points, 38.4% 3-point) to carry the scoring burden without Henry available. They will all need to score to stay within striking distance against a Ramblers team that is on a winning and covering streak.
Loyola-Chicago is 9-3 overall against the spread (ATS), covering in four straight games and seven of their last eight.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is normally a great spot to back a conference rival getting points, but Bradley’s injury issues were exposed against an inferior Illinois state opponent.
Under Moser, Loyola-Chicago has been a strong ATS road pick. In his 10 seasons as head coach, the Ramblers have covered at a 58% rate.
Depending on how the public bets this game, the line could drop slightly closer to tip-off.
I took the Ramblers at the opening number of 6.5, but I would expect that number to decrease. I would take the Ramblers even more if the spread fell below the six-point threshold.
Pick: Loyola-Chicago -6.5 or better.