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Odds and Ends

Back Loyola-Chicago, Over in UMass-Davidson

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: February 24, 2021, 9:39 am ET

Davidson (-2) at UMass 

UMass and Davidson both come into this meeting off three straight wins. Davidson is 6-2 all-time versus UMass, and the two programs have met all eight times since 2009-10. 

Dating back to 2014-15, Davidson is 5-1 SU and the last meeting should not be an indicator of how this matchup will go. Umass lost by 35 in the last meeting and won 54-51 in the previous. In the 35-point loss, it was the first time UMass forward/center Tre Mitchell played Davidson. 

Mitchell scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in the 35-point loss. Since then, Mitchell has improved his game drastically, and oddly enough, the loss was the largest in the series history.

The last five meetings between Davidson and UMass have featured three games Over 143 but two Unders (105, 135) in the previous two.

Davidson 85, UMass 50

Umass 54, Davidson 51

Davidson 83, UMass 78

Davidson 79, UMass 74

Davidson 86, UMass 74

The main difference between the last meeting and this one is Tre Mitchell from UMass. Mitchell has evolved and blossomed into an elite big man for the Minutemen. What surely will be his final collegiate season, Mitchell has averaged 20.5 points and 7.3 rebounds, willing his team to a 4-1 conference record. Entering Sunday, Mitchell ranks 25th in the country with 20.5 points per game.

Mitchell has scored 11, 16 and 24 points while posting seven or more rebounds during UMass's three-game winning streak. I have backed UMass for most of the year, and at home, this is a very tempting situation. However, I believe the Over is the wiser and safer play. 

UMass' defense is ranked eighth in average defensive possession length (15.8) and 77th in average offensive possession length (16.2). They play quick and let opponents score quicker. In six-of-eight games this season, UMass has scored 80 or more points and 75 or more in seven games. The Minutemen allowed five of their opponents to surpass 77 points and seven to go for 66 or more.

Davidson plays at the 350th slowest paces in the country (64.3) or adjusted tempo, but owns the 20th best effective field goal percentage (55.8%). The Wildcats hit the two-ball at 57.5% clip (15th) and 36.2% (77th) from deep. Davidson allows their opponents to hit 51.3% of their two-point field goals (213rd), which could be the primary pathway to UMass points. 

The Minutemen have four players averaging double-digits, and Mitchell is hitting 58.7% of his two-point field goals. UMass as a team averages 63.2 field goal attempts per game, 23rd most in the country. Davidson only attempts 55.2 field goals per game (274th), but against teams ranked top 100 in average possession length or adjusted tempo, they have scored well. Davidson finished with 76 (Texas), 80 (Saint Joe's) points. Against Rhode Island, who ranks 103rd, the Wildcats scored 67.

Numerous computer models and I project both teams to hit the 70-point mark in this matchup. This should be a close matchup, and while I lean UMass, the Over looks like a very favorable play. The Over is 7-1 in UMass' last eight overall and 5-2 in Davidson's last seven.

Game Pick: Over 143.5 (1u)

 

Loyola Chicago (-8) at Bradley

Bradley comes into this matchup down two crucial players. Ja'shon Henry averages 11.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and is out due to a concussion. Ari Boya averages 5.6 points and 6.6 rebounds but is also doubtful to play with a foot injury after missing Friday's practice. 

The two missed the previous game, a 71-56 loss to Illinois State. Illinois State is raked 246th in Kenpom and lost by 30 and 31 points in a back-to-back to Loyola-Chicago. 

While Bradley is on the decline with the loss to Illinois State and out two players, it is disheartening going against a Loyola-Chicago team that's won four straight. Bradley won three straight before that loss to Illinois State and enter this matchup with one loss on their home court, a four-point loss to South Dakota State. 

Loyola-Chicago is one of the most offensively efficient teams and scoring, they do not compare to Bradley. The Ramblers are recording 57.6% effective field goal percentage (10th), 59.0% two-point field goal percentage (8th), and 37.0% from beyond the arc (52nd). Bradley is horrid at defending the three-ball, allowing 37.9% of threes to hit successful (307th) but limit the two very well. 

Bradley ranks first in the country with a 39.7% field goal percentage allowed within the three-point line. Boya is a 7-foot-1 center, and without him, I would like to think Loyola-Chicago can hit 40% or higher from the two and connect on three-pointers. 

Loyola-Chicago is 4-0 ATS in their last four overall and as the favorite. Bradley is 2-7 ATS in their last nine as an underdog and 1-5-1 ATS in the last seven following a SU loss. With the spread growing from -6 to -8 overnight, -9 is as far as I would go in backing the Ramblers. I like Loyola to win by double-digits.

Game Pick: Loyola-Chicago -8 (2u)

Vaughn Dalzell

Vaughn Dalzell is a former Division I SID, two-time IUP Alumnus and also a contributor on numberFire, FantasyPros and Bet The Prop. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @VmoneySports.