The league-leading Loyola Chicago Ramblers (18-4, 9-2 MVC) — who are currently rated as the 24th-best team in the country by KenPom — aim for a season-sweep of the Bradley Braves (13-11, 7-5 MVC) Wednesday at Carver Arena. Tip off is at 9:00 pm ET on CBS Sports Network.
|Loyola Chicago||TBD||-4 (-115)||O 131.5 (-110)|
|Bradley||TBD||+4 (-105)||U 131.5 (-110)|
Odds as of February 8th, 2022 at DraftKings.
Loyola is a four-point favorite over the Braves, while the total is 131.5. Loyola is among the top-50 favorites in the 2022 Final Four odds at this point, sitting at +2600. The Ramblers’ +11500 college basketball national championship odds don’t look encouraging at a glance, but compared to the second-shortest MVC team, Drake at +30000, they look positively optimistic.
Drew Valentine’s team avenged a 79-69 loss to the Bears earlier this season with a nine-point victory this weekend. Leading scorer Lucas Williamson paced the squad with 19 points, while fellow senior guard Tate Hall had 13 in the win.
Meantime, Brian Wardle saw senior post Ari Boya tally 10 points and grab 14 rebounds and Jayson Kent account for 14 points as the Braves held the Purple Aces to just 27.1% shooting from the field in a 35-point win.
Loyola Chicago Owns Bradley in Recent H2H Results
The Ramblers have defeated the Braves in five straight meetings (and six of the last seven), including a 78-71 overtime win in the Windy City. Loyola stormed back from a 16-point, second-half deficit to force the extra period and eventually come out on top. Williamson had 20 back on Jan. 8, while the bench outscored Bradley’s, 33-13.
The Ramblers have been one of the most efficient teams (9th in offensive effective field goal percentage) and consistent (each of their four losses have been by 10 points or less) in the country this season. Dating back to last season, Loyola has won 37 of its last 43 contests (.860).
Valentine’s crew only has two players (Williamson at 13.3 ppg and Braden Norris at 10.0 ppg) averaging in double-digits this season. But the lack of a true offensive star has not hurt this group.
The Ramblers bring a 23-game win streak (including 12 straight against MVC squads) against teams from the state of Illinois into Wednesday’s game. Loyola has also prevailed in 13 of its last 15 true road games.
The DraftKings Free Million Dollar Bet Promo – Still Time to Opt-In!
Bradley is 9-4 ATS in Last 13
Since beating (and covering against) Sam Houston State 87-61 on Dec. 21, Bradley has a 9-4 record against the spread. The Braves’ ATS record over the last seven weeks certainly makes their 13-11 SU record on the season more palatable. One of those wins came as a 13.5-point underdog to the Ramblers last month.
PREVIEW: The Braves renew their rivalry with longtime in-state foe Loyola on Wednesday night at Carver Arena, presented by Benningfield & Associates! 🅱️🏀
🎟️⏩ https://t.co/uv4F7fV8bv pic.twitter.com/FQMSqObyc6
— Bradley Basketball (@bradleyumbb) February 8, 2022
Four players — led by junior guard Terry Roberts (15.4 ppg) — are putting up double-figures for Wardle. But the Braves lead The Valley in both rebounding margin (+7.0) and field goal percentage defense (39.4%), have won five of their last six contests and over their last four victories, have surrendered only 52.8 points per game. Plus, the program is coming off its biggest league win in 22 seasons (and its second-biggest road victory ever).
This group is playing with a lot of confidence right now, If the 7-foot-1 Boya can put on a similar performance against the Ramblers to the one he did against Evansville, Loyola might be headed for a rare defeat.
Loyola Chicago vs Bradley Prediction
Many of the trends favor the Ramblers. There’s the Land of Lincoln streak and road game record. Also, 70 points has been the magic number for Loyola this season. The Ramblers are a perfect 13-0 when scoring 70 or more points and only 5-4 when scoring fewer than 70 points.
Who has held opponents to just over 58 in the last four — and has a big man coming off a career-high rebound total? That would be Bradley.
This one will probably be close (five of the last eight encounters at Carver have been decided by seven points or less). But the road team is just better.
Pick: Loyola Chicago -4 (-115)