Loyola-Chicago vs Nevada Preview and Prediction
Loyola-Chicago vs Nevada Preview
Predicting the NCAA Tournament isn’t easy, but having at least one team in every the Sweet Sixteen matchup is a win for us here at MFST. We predicted the Loyola-Chicago run through the Sweet Sixteen, Nevada–not so much.
Now both surprise teams are ready to make school history–just like their super fans.
Loyola-Chicago has a 98-year-old nun. Nevada has an 8-year-old superfan.
The teams’ secret weapons are no longer so secret.
Not after Sister Jean, the Ramblers’ team chaplain, inspired No. 11-seed Loyola (30-5) to back-to-back nail-biting wins, 64-62 win over No. 6 Miami on Thursday and 63-62 over third-seeded Tennessee on Saturday.
“I say a prayer, but sometimes there’s a little more than talking to God in the prayer,” Sister Jean said on “Good Morning America” this week. “We wanna be sure that, when the buzzer goes off, the numbers indicate that we get the big W. I pray for the other team, perhaps not as hard.”
Mariah Musselman (head coach Eric’s daughter) exhorted the Wolf Pack to two come-from-behind wins. Nevada (29-7) overcame a 14-point deficit on Friday to beat No. 10 Texas in overtime 87-83. Then on Sunday, Mariah’s dad made the necessary adjustment over the last 11-plus minutes and Nevada climbed out of a 22-point hole to beat No. 2-seed Cincinnati 75-73 to set up Thursday’s Sweet 16 battle against the Ramblers in Atlanta.
What does Mariah’s dad have to say about Loyola?
“They’re a really, really well-coached team that presents a lot of problems. To beat Miami, to beat Tennessee … this team is really good,” Musselman said. “They have a freshman center who was freshman of the year in their conference. They have the player of the year from their conference and they have a bunch of really good shooters.”
Ramblers to watch for
Clayton Custer: 13.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game (Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year).
Cameron Krutwig: 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game (MVC Freshman of the Year)
Donte Ingram: 11.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game (Senior Leader).
Marques Townes: 11.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game (High school teammate of Karl Anthony-Towns).
Quad of thieves
The Ramblers feature four players who average more than a steal per game (Custer, Ingram, Townes and Ben Richardson). Loyola-Chicago will play in your face pressure defense, creating turnovers.
Coming in hot
The Ramblers have won 12 straight and 19 out of their past 20. They rank third in the nation in field goal percentage (50.6 percent) and 50th in field-goal defense (41.6 percent).
But its defense where the Ramblers rest their laurels. Their opponents in the regular season turn the ball over on nearly 20 percent of possessions and make only 33.2 percent of their 3-point shots.
“We’ve got our foot on the pedal,” coach Porter Moser told the Chicago Tribune. “We feel like we’re chasing. We’re going to chase some more. We’ve got to chase Nevada. We’re going to be the underdog in this game, and we’re going to chase ’em.”
Wolf Pack to watch for
Caleb Martin: 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game
Jordan Caroline: 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game
Cody Martin: 13.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists per game
The Martin brothers are just that, brothers and they play that way on the floor. Not afraid to share the rock and trusting each other on every possession.
“Loyola is a great team, but we’re ready, we’re hungry, we know we can beat them and we’ll go in there expecting to beat them,” Wolf Pack guard Kendall Stephens said. “At the same time, they’re there for a reason like we are, so we’ll approach it in that manner.”
“In our region, a ton of upsets have happened, and people say, ‘Oh, things look easier for you,'” Loyola guard Ben Richardson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding? Have you seen what happened? You think it’s going to be easier after seeing all that?’ It’s anything goes.”
This game will be tight throughout and my head says Nevada will have too many athletes for the Ramblers to keep up with, but how has that worked out for the Hurricanes and Volunteers? Sister Jean is firing on all cylinders.
Loyola-Chicago 67 Nevada 64