Loyola Kansas St

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Loyola Chicago


Kansas St

Elite 8 Pick


This matchup wasn’t on anyone’s list for must watch in the Elite 8 as it’s setting some history with a 9-seed against an 11-seed. The previous record for combined seeds was 15. That’s how unpredictable this region is and now one of these teams has to play in the Final 4. It opened as a pick ‘em at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Atlanta.

Loyola deserves to be here, but its three wins have come by a combined Four points. It escaped late against both Miami and Tennessee and then had to hold on against Nevada in the Sweet 16. It continues to battle in these Games and hit key shots when needed.

No one gave Kansas State a chance against Kentucky in what seemed like a road Game with so many UK fans. Because of that, it’s a wonder what the fan turnout will be for the Elite 8. K State had no issues with Creighton, won ugly against UMBC and then led Kentucky most of the way.

These teams may not be elite per say, but both did enough to make it here. In fact, both teams are still outside of the KenPom top 33 and there aren’t many rankings that have these teams all that high.

All signs point to this being another low-scoring contest between teams that want to slow it down. No team has surpassed 70 points in any of the six previous Games for these teams and there’s no reason that will start here. This will be a slow, methodical Game that comes down to the wire. Looking at the numbers, the Ramblers are probably the easier team to back because they still have one of the best effective field goal percentages in the country (57.8) to go with a good defense, while the Wildcats just have a good defense. K State doesn’t shoot it well from deep with most of its points coming inside the arc.

That’s a relevant stat because the only way K State beat Kentucky was that it hit threes, going 9-of-22. If those threes don’t fall in this Game, there could be trouble. Neither team has much of a size edge, which is good news for the Wildcats after having to deal with Kentucky. Dean Wade played a few minutes in the first half on Thursday, but couldn’t do more than that and it’s unlikely he’ll play significant minutes in this Game.

In the frontcOurt, Kansas State may have an advantage with Makol Mawien and Levi Stockard against Cameron Krutwig, who is Loyola’s only true big man. Krutwig isn’t an offensive force, but he can be a key player at times. And when Krutwig is off the cOurt, Mawien has shown he can go off against smaller defenders, dropping 29 points against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament.

The battle of the backcOurts will be fun to watch because these teams have made it with smaller lineups. They each surround their one big with Four guards that all come in at 6-foot-5 and less. Both have multiple options that have stepped up so far in the Tournament. Barry Brown is most reliable for K State, but Xavier Sneed was the leading scorer against Kentucky, while Kamau Stokes and Carter Diarra had a few key buckets.

They’ll be matched with Loyola’s top guys in Clayton Custer, Donte Ingram, Marques Townes, Aundre Jackson and Ben Richardson, all of whom seem to hit big buckets late. Custer runs the show and has reached double digits in every Game, but Townes did whatever he wanted against Nevada en route to 18 points and five assists.

It makes sense to go with Loyola because it’s a much better all-around shooting team led by Custer. K State still won’t have leading scorer Dean Wade (most of the Game) and that has to hurt at some point. Either way, the first team to crack 60 points will probably be the one that wins.

Our Pick – Kansas St -1.5

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