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Michigan vs Loyola Chicago: Final Four Point Spread Pick

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers(32-5) @ Michigan Wolverines(32-7)

  • Where: Alamodome. San Antonio, TX
  • When: March 31, 2018 6:07 pm EST
  • Spread: Michigan (-5) vs Loyola-Chicago (+5)
  • Moneyline: Michigan (-230) vs Loyola Chicago (-190)
  • Over / Under: Over 129 (-110) vs Under 129 (-110)

If the Final Four match-up between Kansas and Villanova is a study of historical hardwood prowess, then the Michigan vs Loyola-Chicago game is a study in contrasts.

One school represents the Big Ten, and was once home to the Fab Five. The Michigan Wolverines won a national title in 1989 under Steve Fisher, yet analysts like Dick Vitale are calling current head coach John Beilein the best Ann Arbor skipper yet. Michigan was only a 3rd seed in the West bracket in 2018, but a 27-point Sweet 16 win over Texas A&M (which had just blown-out North Carolina) proved that the Maize and Blue are capable of championship-worthy basketball.

Their opponent is a #11 seed, tied for the lowest-ever to reach the Final Four. Loyola-Chicago has stolen the hearts of hardwood fans across America with a Cinderella run in which 3 games have been decided by a combined total of 4 points. The Ramblers trounced the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight, leading 61-38 with 9:40 to play.

Betting on a David vs Goliath match-up is complicated. Loyola-Chicago has proven itself in the clutch, and if the game is anywhere near close in the 2nd half, the upstarts have more than a fair chance to win. But emotions are involved. Unless you’re a Michigan fan from birth, you’re probably cheering for the Ramblers. And there’s always a chance that a media-darling underdog will take too much action and influence the Vegas lines.

So let’s cut through the static as thoroughly as possible. Here’s a preview of 4 betting markets for LCHI vs UM – point spread, money line, Over/Under and live wagering.

Final Four: Michigan vs Loyola-Chicago ATS betting

Point spreads for college basketball tend to be tight. But there’s no question bookies are more confident marking UM as the eventual winner (-230) than the victor in a blow-out (point spread: Michigan (-5)) on Saturday evening. We’re liking the Wolverines against the spread, not because Michigan is a lock to win straight-up but because if either team has a better shot at a rout, it’s Beilein’s squad.

UM’s 58-54 win over FSU in the Elite Eight doesn’t seem to offer much hope that the Wolverines could pull away in a Final Four game. But every team that makes it this far in the Big Dance has to win a defensive grudge match along the way.

Moritz Wagner could conceivably prove to be too much for Loyola-Chicago to handle. The 6’11” forward played 30 minutes against A&M and was 8-of-12 from the field, helping the Wolverines to a 24-point halftime lead.

Michigan vs Loyola-Chicago Money Line

Just as there is value in the market for Michigan to win by a lot, there could also be an opportunity for bettors who pick Loyola-Chicago to win in a squeaker…or otherwise.

Yes, there’s a chance that the Ramblers will reach the end of their rope by Saturday. But the squad has no major injuries and almost a full week to recover from its clash with KSU.

3 out of 4 games won by one bucket means that the Windy City underdogs have been dangling on the precipice of elimination. It also means that they’re good in the clutch. A lone buzzer-beating win is a fluke. 2 in a row is a great story. 3 in a row is not an accident.

Loyola guard Clayton Custer, who made the winning jump-shot in the team’s 1-point win over Tennessee, epitomizes the versatility and work ethic that has gotten LCHI this far. The junior leads the roster in points and assists, and blends well in the backcourt with more-athletic specimens like 6’6″ Donte Ingram. Loyola-Chicago can’t match up to Michigan in height or length – the squad’s lone 7-footer Carson Shanks is a rudimentary spot-player. But kids like Ingram, Custer and sharp-shooter Ben Richardson are cool in the clutch.

That makes the 11th seed a potential value bet as a straight-up – not ATS – winner at (+190).

Click to bet on Loyola-Chicago to continue its Cinderella run and get a sign-up bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

Michigan vs Loyola-Chicago: O/U betting pick

The Wolverines’ low-scoring win over FSU in the Elite Eight has driven the Over/Under point totals down for their Final Four contest. In fact, Bovada is offering a 1st half O/U market in which only 60 combined points must be scored to make the bet a winner at (-110).

That’s a pretty good bet. UM vs Florida State wasn’t actually all that bad from an offensive stats perspective. The teams shot poorly from the 3-point line and played a patient half-court game. We’re thinking the Wolverines will try to push the tempo and assert their athleticism in the 1st half against Loyola-Chicago, using speedy guards like Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to draw outside pressure and open things up in the paint for Wagner and possibly 7’1″ Jon Teske.

Michigan’s bench has been hot and cold during March Madness. But that doesn’t mean the Wolverines can’t make an early surge. Outside shooting will come. Meanwhile, if Abdur-Rahkman and company commit turnovers while trying to turn rebounds into points, the Ramblers are more than capable of counter-attacking.

In short, MSB handicaps at least a 60% chance that the 1st half point total will go over, making the first-frame O/U wager the most solid on the betting board.

UM vs LCHI: Betting while you watch

Finally, remember that many historic upsets in basketball occur once the favorite takes a seemingly comfortable lead. It happened to Nevada against LCHI a week ago. It happened to Virginia against Jim Valvano’s NC State Wolfpack in 1983.

Hell, it even happens in Hoosiers…which is at least based on a true story.

If Michigan takes a nice lead at halftime, live-betting odds on Loyola-Chicago to win should pop into the (+400) or (+500) range. That’s an opportunity for a jackpot.

Journalists can write cutesy-wootsy stories about Sister Jean and pretend that the Ramblers are just another Cinderella whose luck will run out. But set all that aside, and for heaven’s sake forget about the #11 seed. Coach Porter Moser’s team is rich in talent, battle-tested and unafraid of major-conference titans.

There’s a 20% to 30% chance of a Michigan blow-out on Saturday – that’s why we’re recommending the Wolverines ATS. If UM appears to be dominating, then save your stake for another play.

But if the #3 seed just happens to hit more outside shots in the 1st half of an otherwise-even game, don’t hesitate to believe your eyes. The best kind of live-bet takes advantage of gamblers’ perception and morale whenever a lead feels safer than it really is.

Stay tuned and look for a halftime bet on Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers might just have enough left in the tank for another stunning finish.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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