2021 NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Value on Loyola-Chicago vs. Georgia Tech Over/Under
Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Loyola-Chicago Ramblers guard Lucas Williamson (1).
- Updated odds list Loyola Chicago as a favorite over Georgia Tech in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
- The Ramblers are analytics darlings, while the Yellow Jackets feature ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright.
- Our staff breaks down both teams and explains why there’s betting value on the total for this great first-round matchup.
Loyola Chicago vs. Georgia Tech Odds
|Loyola Chicago Odds||-5.5|
|Georgia Tech Odds||+5.5|
|Moneyline||-235 / +165|
|Time||Friday, 4 p.m. ET|
The games pitting 8-seeds and 9-seeds are usually competitive, but the committee really made this one a doozy.
Loyola Chicago is a top-10 team by KenPom ratings and features the top defense in the nation. Since Jan. 12, the Ramblers have only lost once: On the road in overtime by one point at the hands of a Drake team that earned an at-large bid.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, earned a double-bye in the ACC Tournament by finishing fourth in the conference and then went on to win the conference tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. Two terrible November losses tanked what would have otherwise been a resume worthy of a significantly higher seed.
Two hot teams, both underseeded and both desperate for a second-round date with Illinois. The smallest advantages could swing this game. Some recent news may be enough to affect your bet.
Shane McNichol: If you’re loyal to Ken Pomeroy’s analytical models, the Ramblers are the most underseeded team in this tournament. According to research from Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, Loyola Chicago places in the annals of most underseeded teams in terms of the difference in KenPom ranking and tournament seed.
The Ramblers perform so well in analytical models because of their defense, which ranks as the best in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Of the past 15 teams to finish in the top three in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency entering the tournament (dating back to 2015), 13 played in the NCAA Tournament, winning an average of 2.54 games. Ten teams among that group won at least one tournament game and eight of those thirteen teams reached the tournament’s second weekend.
The Loyola defense is anchored by Cameron Krutwig, one of the smartest players in the nation. His ability to read and react defensively makes up for some of his physical limitations, like slow feet and lack of verticality. Teams will look to make Krutwig defend ball screen after ball screen, to test his mobility and to potentially draw him into foul trouble.
Any minutes without Krutwig are a challenge for the Ramblers. He commands the Loyola offense, operating from the high post and earning himself the nickname “Jesuit Jokic.” Loyola’s assist rate drops and its turnover rate jumps when the Ramblers play without its big man, according to On/Off data from Hoop-Explorer,
Playing off of Krutwig means the Ramblers want to slow the game down in the half-court and look for high-quality shots. Senior forward Aher Uguak is one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball, doing all his damage around the rim and making 2-pointers at the sixth-highest percentage in the country.
Pat McMahon: The Yellow Jackets are one of the hottest teams in the field, riding an eight-game win streak that includes an ACC Tournament title run.
Josh Pastner’s club had its struggles early, but it’s had an incredible turnaround and has really hit its stride in the past month. The Yellow Jackets got a tough draw as a 9-seed, but this group isn’t one to complain or back down from a challenge.
Georgia Tech has a very efficient offense thanks to the steady play of senior point guard Jose Alvarado. Alvarado has been a model of consistency and does everything well. He puts up 15.3 points per game on efficient splits of 51% from the floor, 39% from 3, and 85% from the line. He also leads the team in assists (4.1 per game) and leads the conference in steals (3.0).
Alvarado is joined by ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright and backcourt mate Michael DeVoe to form quite a formidable trio. Wright (17.4 ppg) is a lot to handle in the post and is a force of his own on the defensive end.
DeVoe is a crafty scorer who’s been lights out from 3-point range (40.1%) this season. He’s a perfect compliment to Alvarado, and when both are feeling it from distance, this team is a nightmare to defend.
The defense got off to a rocky start but improved dramatically over the course of the season.
It does a great job of forcing turnovers, ranking 15th nationally in opponent turnover percentage (22.3%). Alvarado, Wright, and Jordan Usher all rank in the top 10 in the ACC in steals per game. The Yellow Jackets love to feed off of takeaways and turn opponents’ mistakes into points the other way.
Matchup & Betting Analysis
Shane McNichol: The crux of this game could be decided by a unique matchup.
Jose Alvarado quarterbacks the Georgia Tech offense, and Cameron Krutwig vocally runs things defensively for the Ramblers. If Alvarado can consistently put Krutwig out of position in pick and roll scenarios, then Georgia Tech has a real path to scoring in this game. But if Krutwig can hold his own, then the nation’s top defense should hold firm against the Yellow Jackets.
Things got a bit easier on the Ramblers when ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright was ruled out of the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Wright’s absence should give Loyola Chicago the upperhand defensively and make life difficult for Alvarado.
Without Wright as a scoring option as the screener, Ramblers head coach Porter Moser can be more flexible and creative in the effort to slow down Alvarado.
The loss of Wright will also hurt the Yellow Jackets on the defensive end of the floor. His size and athleticism would have challenged Krutwig and forced other Ramblers players to score. If Georgia Tech can’t force turnovers, then Loyola Chicago is going to work to find high-quality shots and get the most out of every possession.
If you didn’t nab Loyola Chicago before the line moved in reaction to Wright’s absence, then there likely isn’t much value in betting this game against the spread.
But given that it should be a defensive battle and that Georgia Tech will be without Wright and his 17-plus points per game, the under makes a lot of sense here.
The game total sits at 124.5 as of writing, but both of these teams play slowly and defend their tails off. A game decided in the 50s could be in the cards.
Pick: Under 124.5.