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March Madness Final Four 2018 Betting Analysis

March Madness Final Four 2018 Betting Analysis

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers will be trying to advance to their first NCAA Men’s basketball championship game when they take on the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.

NCAA Tournament Final Four
Loyola-Chicago vs Michigan

  • When: March 31, 2018, 6:09 PM ET
  • Where: Alamodome
  • Spread: Michigan -5.5
  • Total: 129

The Ramblers are this year’s Cinderella team, advancing deep into the tournament despite being given no chance before it all started. They have pulled off four consecutive upsets to get this far and are going to need another one to advance to the championship game.

The Wolverines are also a surprise, after finishing fourth in the Big Ten this season. However, thanks to the upsets that occurred on their side of the bracket, they haven’t faced the same level of competition the Ramblers have, which makes this a much closer game than most people think.

The Wolverines will be expected to make quick work of the Ramblers, but they will find themselves watching the championship game from home if they overlook Loyola-Chicago.

Why The Ramblers Can Win

Loyola-Chicago has made it this far into the tournament thanks to their defense, which was the fifth best in the country this year.

Unlike other defensive teams like Virginia, which was upset in the first round, the Ramblers can also score which makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the competition.

The Ramblers won’t have any easy buckets though and will have work hard to find opportunities to score in transition. Even 10 points can mean the difference between victory and defeat because it’ll be a close game.

When this team is shooting at its regular percentage — they average 50% a game — it’s a very tough team to stop. This is especially true in this tournament when four different players have taken turns in knocking down buckets in each victory.

The Ramblers have shut down better offenses in their first four games, and won’t be intimidated by Michigan’s offense, which is 166th in the country.

The Ramblers also have the advantage of having Sister Jean in their corner, which has worked out for them so far.

Why The Wolverines Can Win

Like the Ramblers, the Wolverines also have a very good defense, holding opponents to 63.1 points per game. They have been exceptional in the tournament, holding their four opponents to 59 points per game.

The Wolverines will be able to contain Loyola-Chicago, which averages 72 points per game, and have a better offense, which gives them the better chance to win the game. The fact that they play in a bigger conference also gives them an edge over the Ramblers, who might get intimidated by the spotlight that comes with playing in the Final Four.

X-Factors

For the Ramblers, the X-factor for this game is their ball movement. The team averages 15.9 assists per game, which means they spread the ball very well and don’t settle for bad shots. If they can do the same against the Wolverines, they will be in good shape to win the game.

The Ramblers will look to Cameron Krutwig to wedge passes to the inside and move the ball, a strategy that has worked for them so far.

For Michigan, their X-factor is Moritz Wagner, who played well in their first four tournament games. Wagner, who averaged 14.3 points per game during the regular season, has been an important inside presence for the team because he can score in the post and knock down three-pointers, which allows him to stretch defenses and open lanes in the post for the Wolverines.

Wagner will also be tasked with stopping Cameron Krutwig; though the Ramblers play more from the outside in, Wagner is very capable of playing inside the paint and from the perimeter. Wagner’s 6-11 height is a matchup nightmare that Loyola hasn't really dealt with and will give the Ramblers a world of trouble by stretching the floor with his versatility and shot making.

If Wagner continues playing well, the Wolverines will have the advantage in the post, which will give them an edge over the Ramblers, who don’t have much of an inside game.

How Will Things Play Out?

The Ramblers rank fifth in effective field goal percentage, 11th in the country in three-point percentage and ninth in two-point percentage which means they’ll look to knock down as many threes and perimeter shots as they can.

Michigan will lock down on defense; defensively, the Wolverines are the Ramblers’ toughest test of the season. Michigan hasn’t allowed more than 72 points to an opponent in this tournament and will make Loyola-Chicago fight for every point tooth and claw and will wear the Ramblers down.

Pick: The Wolverines appear to be the better team on paper and will end up ending Loyola-Chicago’s tournament run.