Tournament Free Picks - Saturday (3/24/18)
FREE PICK: Loyola vs. Kansas State UNDER 127 (Covers 55.6% of the time)
For the first time in NCAA Tournament history, No. 9 and No. 11 seeds will meet in the Elite Eight.
Behind the support of superfan Sister Jean, the Loyola Ramblers rallied to knock off No. 7 seed Nevada, while Kansas State&'s pesky defense held an inexperienced Kentucky squad to 38% from the floor and 25% beyond the arc, while Calipari's team shot themselves in the foot at the charity stripe as they connected on only 23-37 free throws in a three-point loss.
When analyzing Saturday's Loyola vs. Kansas State 127 O/U-point total, keep the following in mind. The Wildcats averaged 71.3 points per game during the regular season, but have seen that PPG-average dip to 60.0 in wins over Kentucky, UMBC and Creighton. KSU's free-throw percentage has also regressed from 73.1% this season to 63.1% during the NCAA Tournament. The same can be said of the Ramblers whose 71.1 PPG fell to 65.3 PPG in wins over Miami (FL), Tennessee and Nevada. Loyola's 72% FT rate dipped to 63.6% as tired bodies and heavy arms work to shake off the pressures of survive and advance basketball.
Additionally, much like Syracuse, these two teams like to slow the tempo down. KSU and Loyola rank 307th and 319 in adjusted tempo, respectively, out of 351 D-I programs. The Ramblers' average offensive possession ranks 284th and 329th on defense. They also force their opponent to hold the ball more than a second longer on offense than the D-I average. Opposing offenses' average length of possession against Kansas State ranks 318th. Both the Cats and Ramblers make the opposition work for it, while preaching patience on the offensive end.
When you combine both squads' recent struggles from the floor and free throw line with the fact that they have historically chewed up a lot of clock, this has all the makings of a low-scoring Elite Eight match-up.
According to 50,000 games played by our simulation engine at PredictionMachine.com, the Ramblers v. Wildcats 127-point total UNDER covers 55.6% of the time, which would justify a $34 wager for an average $50 bettor.