Editorial by Graydon Fox
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On Saturday, March 31st, the #11 seed Loyola Ramblers will take on the #3 seed Michigan Wolverines in the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“The Crowd” projects a final score of Michigan 73.6 – Loyola 71.3 with an over/under of 145.0.
Statistics (2017-18 season):
Point differential: Michigan +11.0 > Loyola +9.6
Points per game: Michigan 74.1 > Loyola 72.0
Points allowed per game: Loyola 62.4 > Michigan 64.1
Field Goal Percentage Offense: Loyola 50.9% > Michigan 47.0%
Field Goal Percentage Defense: Loyola 41.4% > Michigan 42.4%
Three Point Percentage: Loyola 40.0% > Michigan 36.6%
Turnovers per game: Michigan 9.2 > Loyola 12.3
Rebounds per game: Michigan 33.4 > Loyola 32.1
Assists per game: Loyola 15.9 > Michigan 14.6
Loyola has certainly been the Cinderella of this year’s tournament beating Kansas State, Nevada, Tennessee, and Miami (FL) and moving on to the Final Four. The Ramblers are well balanced with five players averaging double digit points. Loyola is one of the nation’s elite defensive teams ranking 5th in points allowed (62.4 PPG). The Ramblers are not to be taken lightly offensively either shooting 50.9% from the field and 40.0% from three-point range. Loyola is led by Clayton Custer (13.2 PPG and 4.2 APG), Donte Ingram (11.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG), and Marques Townes (11.2 PPG and 2.5 APG). The Ramblers are certainly a dangerous perimeter shooting team with seven players shooting over 35% from three. Loyola lacks an interior presence and are one of the worst rebounding teams in the country (32.1 RPG). Loyola is (4-0) against ranked opponents this season.
Michigan advanced to the Final Four after defeating Florida State, Texas A&M, Houston, and Montana. The Wolverines only have three double digit scorers this season but rank 8th in scoring defense (63.1 PPG). Michigan’s turnover rate (9.2 TPG) was the second best in the nation. The Wolverines are led by Moritz Wagner (14.2 PPG and 6.9 RPG) who shoots 52.4% from the field and 39.6% from three-point range. Charles Matthews (13.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG) and Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahim (12.8 PPG and 3.3 APG) make up the rest of the double-digit scorers. The Wolverines often play small ball and thus struggle in the rebounding department (33.4 RPG). Michigan is (5-3) against ranked opponents this season.
This is sure to be a low scoring game with two of the top ten defensive teams in the country going head to head. Michigan has lost only one game this season when they hold the opposition under 70 points. Loyola only has one rotational player that is taller than 6ft 6 so they may struggle defending Moritz Wagner in the post. Though Loyola is one of the most efficient and best shooting teams in the country, they have yet to face a defensive the caliber of the Wolverines. I do expect this to be a close game but I think Michigan finally puts an end to Loyola’s Cinderella run through the tournament.
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