Sister Jean, chaplain for the Loyola Chicago men’s basketball team, right, celebrates as she talks with head coach Drew Valentine after the team defeated Northern Iowa in an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Loyola Chicago (24-7, 13-5 MVC) takes on Drake (24-9, 13-5 MVC) Sunday, March 6th at 2:00 pm ET in St. Louis for The Valley tourney title
The Ramblers routed Northern Iowa 66-43 in the first semi on Saturday, while the Bulldogs squeaked by Missouri State 79-78 in overtime of the other
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The Loyola Chicago Ramblers (24-7, 913-5 MVC) — who won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament last season — take on the Drake Bulldogs (24-9, 13-5 MVC) in this year’s tourney final on Sunday at the Enterprise Center.
Tip off is at 2:00 pm ET on CBS.
Loyola Chicago vs Drake Odds
Ov 135 (-110)
Un 135 (+110)
Odds as of March 5th, 2022 with Draftkings
Drake is not expected to make the NCAA Tournament, while Loyola Chicago is projected as a No. 11 seed in the East Region pert the latest March Madness bracket projection. The Ramblers are +2600 longshots in the odds to make the Final Four.
Drew Valentine’s team dominated the Panthers on Saturday, led by junior guard Braden Norris’ 19 points (including 4-of-6 from distance). Fellow junior Marquise Kennedy finished with 13 points and six rebounds in the 23-point victory.
Meantime, Darian DeVries saw his son and the team’s leading scorer, Tucker, bury a pair of free throws with 0:01 left in overtime to clinch a nail-biting one-point victory over Missouri State. The freshman guard had a team-high 23 points in the win. Three other players — Roman Penn (19), Tremell Murphy (15) and Garrett Sturtz (13) — finished in double-digits.
Drake is 4-3 vs Loyola Chicago in Recent H2H History
The Bulldogs swept the Ramblers in both matchups this season and have taken four of the last seven contests between the two programs going back to the 2019-20 season. All but one of those games have been decided by 10 points or less — including the most recent, an 83-76 road victory on Feb. 19.
DeVries matched his season-high with 24 points in a game the Bulldogs never trailed. Sturtz contributed 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals in the seven-point win. Loyola’s leading scorer, Lucas Williamson (who averages 14.1 points per game), tied a career-high with 27 points in the loss. Drake also defeated Loyola 77-68 on Jan. 30.
Valentine’s crew used a smothering defensive effort to knock off the tourney’s No. 1 seed Northern Iowa Saturday, forcing the Panthers to shoot just 23.1% (13-for-56) from the field and 16.7% (4-for-24) from distance. Loyola held UNI without a field goal for the final 15:12 of the game.
Williamson and Norris (10.0 ppg) are the only double-figure scorers for a group that has not needed a ton of points to win games this season. The Ramblers hold opponents to 62.5 points an outing, good for 24th-best in Division I.
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Drake is 5-2 ATS in Last Seven
The Bulldogs are riding a seven-game win streak entering Sunday’s title game and have gone 5-2 against the spread in that timeframe. That includes Saturday’s thriller against the Bears, in which Drake was a 1.5-point underdog.
To the ship! #DrakeALLIN#DSMHometownTeam pic.twitter.com/9pIYXO8bxK
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) March 6, 2022
DeVries, the MVC Freshman of the Year, scored seven of his team’s 11 points in overtime (four threes and a big 3), finishing with his fifth 20-point game of the season. He’s the real deal and gives Drake a legit shot to win every game. He’s one of five Bulldogs scoring in double-figures this season (13.6 ppg). The freshman is joined by Sturtz (11.0 ppg), Penn (10.7 ppg), DJ Wilkins (10.3) and ShanQuan Hemphill (10.1 ppg). That balance will DeVries’ group well.
Drake only had five turnovers (compared to Missouri State’s 14) in the semifinal. If the Bulldogs take care of the ball like that against the Ramblers, this group should exact revenge on the team from the Windy City
Loyola Chicago vs Drake Prediction
Sunday’s game is a rematch of last year’s MVC title game — won by Loyola, 75-65.
Drake is fundamentally sound, but they may be tired from Saturday’s semifinal. The Ramblers have been rolling in the Gateway City and it should continue Sunday.
Pick: Loyola Chicago -5 (-110)