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Final Four 2018: Loyola-Chicago vs Michigan

This year’s Cinderella team, Loyola-Chicago, will attempt to make it to their first NCAA Men’s basketball championship as they take on Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

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NCAA Tournament Final Four Loyola-Chicago vs Michigan

  • When: March 31, 2018, 6:09 PM ET
  • Where: Alamodome
  • Spread: Michigan -5.5
  • Total: 129

Ramblers vs Wolverines

Despite not being given a prayer at the start of the NCAA tournament, the Ramblers have pulled off four consecutive upsets to make it this far. But, they’ll need another hard-fought battle to advance to the championship game.

After finishing the season in the Big Ten’s fourth spot, the Wolverines are also a surprise. Even so, after some big time upsets in their side of the bracket, this may end up being a game that raises even more eyebrows. Should the Wolverines discount the Ramblers, they might find themselves packing home.

Why The Ramblers Can Win

It’s Loyola-Chicago’s defense that has taken them this far into the tournament. But, unlike teams such as Virginia the Ramblers can also score which makes them, perhaps, the most dangerous teams in the competition.

There won’t be any easy buckets for the Ramblers though and it’s going to be critical for them to find opportunities to score in transition. Expect this to be a close game, so every point will count and can be the difference between losing and winning.

When the Ramblers are on-shot – they average 50% a game – they’re very hard to beat. Given that a total of four players have taken their turns at being the point-main in scoring during this tournament, this is especially true.

Also, the Ramblers have completely shut down opponents throughout the first four games, which means they won’t be a pushover for the Wolverines that is ranked 166th in the country on offense.

As if this weren’t enough, they also have Sister Jean in their corner who seems to have gotten them the nod from her boss to tilt the tide to the Ramblers’ favor.

Why The Wolverines Can Win

The Wolverines also have an extremely good defense, one that’s held opponents to 63.1 points per game during the regular season, and that has gotten better during this tournament, holding opponents to 59 points per game.

The Wolverines should be able to keep the Ramblers’ offense contained while being able to score despite Loyola-Chicago’s tough defense.

Also, the fact that Michigan plays in a much tougher conference than the Ramblers gives them an advantage that might shell shock Loyola-Chicago’s players come game time.

X-Factors

The Ramblers may have an edge in their ball movement. This team averages 15.9 assists per game and they spread the ball extremely well, not settling for bad shots. If they can play to this strength against Michigan, they’ll have a fair shot at winning. The Ramblers will look to Cameron Krutwig to handle ball movement and get some passes to the inside, something which has worked very well for them in previous wins.

Moritz Wagner is the Wolverines’ X-Factor; Wagner averaged 14.3 points per game during the regular season and has been important on the inside because of his ability to score in the post as well as from three point range.

Wagner will also have the responsibility of guarding Cameron Krutwig. The Ramblers tend to play more from the outside in, but Wagner presents a challenge that the Ramblers have not faced thus far because of his ability of stretching the floor and making points from the perimeter or on post. If Wagner plays well, it’ll be hard for the Ramblers to win, given they don’t have much of an inside game.

Game Analysis: The Ramblers are fifth in effective field goal percentage, 11th in three-point percentage and ninth in two-point percentage which means they’ll look to knock down as many threes and perimeter shots as they can.

However, Michigan will lock down on defense and will make the Ramblers fight for every shot. Michigan hasn’t allowed more than 72 points to any opponent during the tournament and they won’t start giving away points any time soon.

Pick: The Wolverines are the better team; I expect them to be the end of Loyola-Chicago’s fairytale tournament run.

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