Loyola-Chicago (-15) vs. Southern Illinois
They meet again! Southern Illinois gets Loyola-Chicago for the third time in four games and this will mark three straight for Loyola-Chicago versus Southern Illinois.
Loyola-Chicago and Southern Illinois meet in the second round of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), but there could be one key player missing that changes everything.
Lance Jones was the reason Southern Illinois kept things respectable in the last two games against Loyola-Chicago. He scored 14 and 30 points on the Ramblers and his team lost by seven and eight points. Jones scored six of the team's first 11 points on Bradley in the first round of the MVC before going down with an ankle injury.
Jones is doubtful entering this game. Southern Illinois is still without leading scorer Marcus Domask (16.3 PPG), who has been out since Jan. 4.
If Jones is out, Southern Illinois will need an abundance of players to step up against Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers rank first in the country with an 86.3 adjusted defensive efficiency and convert their two-point field goals at the fourth-best rate in the nation (58.7%).
In MVC ranks, Loyola-Chicago ranks first or second in multiple categories. Starting with offensive and defensive categories, Loyola-Chicago leads or are runner-ups in effective field goal percentages, adjusted efficiency, two-point percentages and steal percentages. The Ramblers rank top four in rebounding percentages, free-throw percentages and turnover percentages too.
Loyola-Chicago defensively is the best team in the MVC and I cannot trust Southern Illinois offensively for the third time versus Loyola. Bradley was without their three top players in Southern Illinois' win and Loyola-Chicago will be fully-loaded, ready for an MVC Title run.
If Lance Jones is out for Southern Illinois, grab Loyola-Chicago right away as the spread will move towards -16 and beyond.
Game Pick: Loyola-Chicago -14.5 (1u) - IF Lance Jones is OUT (2u) - playable to -16
Boston College at Miami (-4)
This total opened at 144 and was quickly beat up to 147.5 overnight then down to 142.5 this morning. Miami has also had the line movement in their favor going from -2 to -4.
However, I still think this total has a chance at hitting but would prefer to see how these teams come out in the first 10 minutes. The first meeting this season went to Boston College, 82-64 (146). In the last five meetings prior to 2021, four-of-five totals have hit 142 or more points.
2020: 85-58 (143)
2019: 64-57 (121)
2018: 72-70 (142)
2018: 79-78 (157)
2017: 78-77 (155)
Both teams struggle defensively this season and have had a lack of scholarship players to fill the bench. Both teams have a stellar scorer on each side, Isaiah Wong for Miami and Jay Heath for Boston College. Heath had a game-high 25 points in the first meeting, while Wong was limited to six. Wong has scored 10, 28 and 29 points in his last three matchups.
Boston College is averaging 75.0 points per game and allowing 86.0 in their last three games. Miami allows 72.0 per game in that same span, but only scoring 60, playing Florida State, Clemson and Virginia - three elite defenses. Miami will have a much easier time scoring in this matchup and Boston College will be focused on earning the road upset to end their season.
Both teams are capable of scoring 70-80 points, making this matchup a value Over. NBC Sports Edge's tools give this Over one of its strongest plays of the day. The Over has hit in four straight home games for Miami and Boston College is 6-1 to the Over in road games this season.
I will wait for lineups to see if Heath and Wong are playing as they will likely combine for at least 30 points in this game. Both teams rank at the cellar of the ACC, so certain players could call it quits early, have a nagging injury like Wong (ankle) or be focused on the NBA or transferring.
This game tips at 6 PM ET, so plenty of time before starting lineups are announced and to see anymore line movement on this matchup.
Game Pick: Lean Over 142.5
Editor’s Note: Get an edge with our premium Betting Tools that are packed with live odds, betting trends, predictions, player prop projections, our extensive Edge Finder and much more. And don't forget to use promo code VAUGHN10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!
Ball State at Toledo (-9.5)
A season finale between two MAC opponents, Ball State travels to Toledo. The Rockets have the No. 1 seed locked up, so they do not need to win here, but it is senior night, so the motivation will be on the Toledo sideline.
Toledo is 8-1 SU (88.8%) in conference home games and 11-1 SU (91.6%) on the season. Ball State is locked into eighth in the standings, a half-game back of Miami (OH). Miami swept Ball State, so they are stuck where they stand.
Ball State played at home for seven straight games, the entire month of February was spent playing at home - Must be nice! Ball State went 4-3 SU (57.1%) in those games, entering this matchup on a three-game winning streak, scoring 90 or more points all three.
Ball State's average score in the last seven home games was 157.4. The last three games had a lot to do with that, averaging 171.3. Ball State has scored 79 or more in five of the previous six games overall, all being at home.
Ball State has had seven conference road games, and the average score has been 147.1. Ball State scored 69 or more in five of those seven games. In nine conference home games, Toledo's average game score has been 156.5 and the Rockets have scored 76 or more in every game.
Toledo is 6-2 to the Over in the last eight home games, while Ball State is 5-1 to the Over in the previous six road games.
NBC Sports Edge's Top Trend for Ball State is backing the Over as the Over has gone 18-5 (78.3%) in the Cardinals' last 23 games. The Over is 17-7 (70.8%) in Toledo's last 24 games against teams with a winning record for the Over and coming off a day or more of rest.
This is another live bet spot to see how competitive these two squads will come out with only Toledo having motivation to win in the final home game. Ball State has scored 90 or more in three straight games and that will come with a sharp regression, whether it is this game or the first round of the MAC Tournament. Let's see if Ball State's offense can keep up early on or if Toledo's -9.5 spread could be more attainable after the first few whistles.
Game Pick: Lean Over 154