Fixture: No. 11 Oregon State (19-12, 10-10 Pac-12) vs. No. 8 Loyola Chicago (26-4, 16-2 Missouri Valley)
Tip-Off: 2:40 p.m. EST
Where to Watch: CBS
A Chi-town Tourney Run
Only three years ago, the Loyola Chicago team made one of the most unexpected Cinderella runs ever. Now according to ESPN their team are heavy favorites to return to the Elite Eight. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives the Loyola Ramblers an 80 percent chance to move on.
Entering this game Loyola has shut down some of the best offenses in the country beating No. 9 Georgia Tech and upsetting the No. 1 seeded Illinois team. A team that held an 11.9 percent chance to win the entire tournament.
At the helm of the Ramblers besides 101-year old Sister Jean, is center Cameron Krutwig. Krutwig has been the main focal point of the offense averaging 15 points, 6.9 assists and three rebounds on the season. However Loyola’s true offensive strength lies in it’s depth. Eight players for Loyola average at least five points per game.
The defense of the Ramblers is probably the most impressive aspect of this side. The Ramblers are causing turnovers on almost 20 percent of their opponents possessions and limiting teams to .864 points per possession. No longer are the days of shocked victory, Loyola has gained the respect of the nation.
Unpredictable Oregon State
If you were to explain to someone Oregon State would be in tournament after a 5-5 start to the season you would probably be surprised. Oregon State took the Pac-12 tournament championship. The Beavers won in eight out of nine games to end the season. In addition, they made the Sweet Sixteen after defeating No. 5 seed Tennessee and then the No. 4 seed Oklahoma State. Oregon State has one loss in their last nine games. Oregon State held Oklahoma State star and NBA hopeful Cade Cunningham to 28 percent shooting from the field.
The Oregon State’s key player for this game is Ethan Thompson averaging a team high 19.5 points per game during March Madness. Including a 26 point outbreak against Oklahoma State. While Oregon State hasn’t been shooting lights out at an underwhelming 32.5 percent from three for the season they have made timely buckets to bury opponents as of late.
While Oregon State stays impressive offensively in spurts, the consistency of Loyola Chicago should prevail this game as they hold opposing teams to only 60 points per game. The tale of two Cinderella stories meet, one will prevail and the other ends this Saturday in Indianapolis.