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Loyola Chicago now has fourth best odds to reach Final Four

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Jason Ence

March 23rd, 2021

Following their second-round victory over No. 1 seed Illinois, the Ramblers of Loyola University Chicago have the fourth lowest odds of making the Final Four as of Tuesday afternoon.

Odds to reach the Final Four

Loyola Chicago

Let’s take a look at what the Ramblers have done so far, and whether they are a solid bet to advance to the final weekend of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

First Round: Defeated Georgia Tech 71-60

It took Loyola more than six minutes to score its second basket of the game, but the Ramblers rallied from an early 13-3 hole to take a halftime lead against the Yellow Jackets before pulling away down the stretch. They owned the glass, out-rebounding Georgia Tech 30-17, and they held the Yellow Jackets to just 30% shooting from the outside.

The Ramblers had a balanced offensive attack, with four players scoring in double figures. Lucas Williamson led the team with 21 points on just 13 shots, and they made 11 of their 27 threes. One concern, however, was their 10-of-15 shooting from the line on the day.

Second round: Defeated Illinois 71-58

The Ramblers showed how woefully underseeded they were as they knocked off No. 1 seed Illinois on Sunday. Unlike their opening round contest, the Ramblers jumped out to an early lead, and did not trail after the first minute. They led by as many as 14 in the first half, and maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half. They held the Illini scoreless over the final 98 seconds.

They won the rebounding battle yet again, and were led by Williamson and big Cameron Krutwig. They made Ayo Dosunmu quite uncomfortable, and took him out of the game, limiting him to just nine points and forcing him into six turnovers. On the day, the Ramblers held Illinois to just 0.88 points per possession.

Should you let it all ride on the Ramblers?

It is a solid value to take Loyola Chicago to make the Final Four, but it depends on how you view Oregon State and Houston. The hip issue plaguing DeJon Jarreau is a concern for the Cougars, and it took a Herculean effort from Quentin Grimes to mount a late comeback win over Rutgers on Sunday.

Oregon State will be a handful, but don't sleep on Loyola's defense. The Ramblers entered the tournament with the top adjusted defense in KenPom, a ranking they still hold, and they will defend dynamic guard Ethan Thompson far better than Oklahoma State, who let him score 26 points and sent him to the line 16 times.

As for Houston, they shot just eight of 22 from beyond the arc against Rutgers, and Loyola Chicago’s stellar defense will limit their ability to find open looks. They will also fight harder on the glass than the Scarlet Knights did, and seeing Houston get 16 offensive rebounds again is highly unlikely.

Given their current roll, and taking into account the way Houston looked on Sunday and the questionable status of Jarreau, I think the Ramblers will beat them as well and make their second Final Four in three years. Grab the line at +160 before their odds drop any further.