Valparaiso’s John Kiser (33) heads to the basket past Loyola of Chicago’s Clayton Custer during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, Friday, March 8, 2019, in St. Louis. Loyola won 67-54. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
- #22 Loyola Chicago (17-3, 12-1 Missouri Valley) battles Drake (19-1, 10-1 Missouri Valley) on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 12pm ET
- The MVC’s two powerhouses are set for the first of two consecutive games, with a spot atop the league standings on the line
- See below for the odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick
We’re still in the first half of February, so it’s a touch early to talk about college basketball games having any kind of big picture ramifications. But Saturday’s matchup between Loyola Chicago and Drake — the first of two meetings between these schools — is certainly an exception.
The winner of these games has the inside track to the top seed in the Missouri Valley Conference, which would put it in prime position in the ensuing conference tournament. Given that the MVC is typically a one-bid conference for March Madness, that means something.
So anyway, let’s dive right into this one. Here are the odds for Saturday:
#22 Loyola Chicago vs. Drake Odds
|Loyola Chicago||-4.0 (-120)||N/A||Over 133.0 (-110)|
|Drake||+4.0 (+100)||N/A||Under 133.0 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 12th at FanDuel.
How They’ve Fared Recently
How Drake has fared recently is pretty much how they’ve fared all year: very, very well. The Bulldogs only have one loss, so we can’t nitpick them too much.
That one loss, though, came just last Sunday against a much weaker Valparaiso team (215th in KenPom’s rankings). After just squeezing by Valpo the day before, in an 80-77 win, Drake fell 74-57 in a rather embarrassing effort. They committed 14 turnovers, but what’s worse is they shot just 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from 3-pt. range.
That’s just a case of cold shooting, which doesn’t happen often for Drake (their 37.5 percent 3-pt. shooting ranks 36th in NCAA Division I). What’s working against Drake is their weak schedule — they haven’t faced anyone inside KenPom’s top 120. Loyola Chicago (57th) will certainly change that.
The Ramblers have faced five teams inside KenPom’s top 120 and defeated three of them. Since Dec. 22, their lone loss came against Indiana State by a five-point margin. If not for a late 18-0 run by the Sycamores, Loyola Chicago probably would’ve won.
Still, since that collapse Loyola Chicago has won 10 in a row. They’re sixth in effective field goal percentage, eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency and 29th in assist rate on made field goals. This is simply a very good team.
Drake is 15-3 against the spread, including an 8-1 ATS mark at home. The Bulldogs have suffered all three of their ATS losses within their past five games, though, which makes that dazzling record look a bit less impressive. All three of their ATS losses came by margins of at least nine points.
Loyola Chicago is 12-5-1 ATS overall, with a 6-2-1 ATS record on the road. They’ve failed to cover in their past two games, as 18.5- and 18-point favorites against Evansville, but they still won both games straight up by double-digit margins.
— Loyola Men’s Basketball (@RamblersMBB) February 7, 2021
In the two previous seasons, Loyola Chicago has won three of four matchups straight up, while these teams have an even split ATS. Drake covered the spread in both games from last season, though, for what that’s worth.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 11, 2021
We like the Ramblers to keep rolling; and even against a formidable foe like Drake, a four-point spread is quite doable.
Pick: Loyola Chicago -4.0 (-120)
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.