Loyola-Chicago vs. Miami -2 O/U 133
What happens when the betting markets fall in love with an underdog? Simple – you end up with a pointspread like this one, where #6 seed Miami is only a two point favorite as I write this on Wednesday over #11 seed Loyola- Chicago. Quite frankly, that pointspread is too low.
Betting markets focus on statistical profiles. The Ramblers have an impressive statistical profile. They rank in the Top 20 nationally in effective field goal percentage from both two point range and three point range. And Loyola ranks in the Top 25 nationally in defensive efficiency; putting up impressive numbers on both ends of the court. Throw in a 28-5 SU record and you can understand why wiseguys have been flocking to the Ramblers in early betting action.
What happens when the betting markets don’t have much of a sample size for mid-majors as they step up in class? Simple – any win they notched against a quality foe gets factored into the equation like it was a HUGE deal. Loyola played one true ‘step-up-in-class’ game all year. They won that game SU, at Florida, a win that looks great on their resume and ‘Proves’ they can hang with quality foes.
Of course, bettors are loathe to go back and do some research to figure out HOW Loyola won that game. The answer there is simple too – Florida was as flat as a pancake, coming off HUGE games against Duke and Florida State, the Seminoles game coming just 48 hours earlier. Sure, Loyola notched an impressive road win, but it’s not a win that convinces me the Ramblers are capable of winning ‘step-up’ games in March.
It’s surely worth noting that INCLUDING the win at Florida, Loyola’s non-conference strength of schedule ranked #315 in the country. It’s also worth noting that the Missouri Valley Conference was WAY down this year, especially compared to what it was when Wichita State and Creighton stood at the top of the league.
Miami has a size advantage at every position on the floor in this ballgame. Jim Larranaga’s squad has been wildly inconsistent this year – typical of fairly young teams with only one senior starter. But make no mistake about it – Miami has certainly stepped up well for their biggest games, including SU wins away from home as underdogs at North Carolina and at Notre Dame in recent weeks. Look for wiseguy darling Loyola to come up short against a Hurricanes team still searching for betting market respect.