Loyola, Michigan head for Alamo; who's next?

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

March 24, 2018 11:04 PM

Loyola-Chicago and Michigan lead the way to San Antonio with Saturday victories. Who will join them from Villanova-Texas Tech and Duke-Kansas? Saturday recaps and Sunday previews right now in this bonus edition from VSiN City.

Elite 8: Loyola-Chicago wins the South with blowout of worn-out Kansas State

It’s become a habit! A nun is still the Cinderella of the 2018 ball as #11 seed Loyola was the first Dance team to stamp its Final Four ticket. 

Loyola-Chicago (plus 1.5) 78, Kansas State 62

Two-point Pct: Loyola 62%, Kansas State 41%

Three Pointers: Loyola 9/18, Kansas State 6/25

Free Throws: Loyola 15/18, Kansas State 10/12

Rebounds: Loyola 36, Kansas State 28

Turnovers: Loyola 15, Kansas State 6

Estimated Possessions: Loyola 67, Kansas State 67

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Loyola 34-59-47, Kansas State 36-35-42

Market Watch: Active betting between a range of Kansas State at pick-em (for a short time) and -1, or Loyola at plus 1.5. The opening total of 127 came down to 126.5 or 126.

The composition of that box score suggests Kansas State lost its legs after the intense upset of Kentucky in the prior round two days ago. As great as Loyola is at playing smart basketball, nobody can shoot 62% inside the arc and 50% outside the arc “on command” unless they’re getting a lot of wide open looks and easy layups. So, a combination of Loyola’s great fundamentals and K-State being a step or two slow on rotations created a “Loyola and Over” scenario that was formidable for 40 minutes.

K-State did gamble enough to create some turnovers. But that was the only category it won. Free throw counts are a little misleading because two-thirds of Loyola’s attempts came in a parade in the last few minutes (K-State kept fouling despite being down double digits). 

A great capper to Loyola’s run through the regional. Congrats to anyone cashing the Ramblers to 60/1 (or as high as 80/1) to win the South (remember that regions are named for the part of the country where its “host” cities are for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, not for the location of teams in that region). Says so much about the “name out of a hat” reality of this event. Loyola beat Miami by two (trailing by 1 with 9 seconds left and its opponent shooting free throws), Tennessee by 1, Nevada by 1, and then peaked against the worst seed it faced. While it’s true that facing a #9 seed in the Elite 8 is a bit of a break, Loyola’s run of 6-3-7-9 will stack up favorably with other Final Four entries. Ramblers didn’t get the perk of facing a double-digit seed in an early round.

Nice run for a “defense and rebounding” dog. Using our rudimentary formula of shots…minus offensive rebounds…plus one-half free throw attempts…plus turnovers, we get this for what Loyola allowed per game:

Miami scored 62 points on 63 estimated possessions 

Tennessee scored 62 points on 59 estimated possessions

Nevada scored 68 points on 68 estimated possessions

Kansas State scored 62 points on 67 estimated possessions

Less than a point per possession allowed by Loyola’s defense against a slate that’s used to scoring well clear of that. Loyola was plus 13 in rebound differential despite being an underdog every time it took the floor. 

Let’s see who will saddle up next to Sister Jean in San Antonio…

Elite 8: The Good (defense), the Bad (3-point shooting), and the Ugly (almost blowing a late 10-point lead!)…how the West was won by Michigan

Michigan backers felt they were safe with a 10-point lead and 2:26 to go. A few missed free throws here…a couple of FSU baskets there…and FSU was down only three with the ball with one minute to go! Too little too late for a dog that struggled to solve the Michigan defense all evening. 

Michigan (-4.5) 58, Florida State 54

Two-point Pct: Florida State 36%, Michigan 56%

Three Pointers: Florida State 4/17, Michigan 4/22

Free Throws: Florida State 18/20, Michigan 16/24

Rebounds: Florida State 36, Michigan 33

Turnovers: Florida State 15, Michigan 10

Estimated Possessions: Florida State 65, Michigan 62

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Florida State 27-21-29, Michigan 7-9-12

Market Watch: An opener of Michigan -4.5 was bet down to -4, and then -3.5 in spots for a short time. It would rise to a solid -4, with some stores closing at -4.5 from late public money. The total opened at either 143 of 143.5 depending on the store, and largely stood pat. 

Point spread shopping was obviously huge here. For some reason, FSU didn’t foul when down four in the final nine seconds. Did the head coach have plus 4.5?! In many ways, a disappointing performance from Michigan. Most of the night, this was the team that struggled to beat Houston rather than the one that crushed Texas A&M, Purdue, and Michigan State. But, that’s how good Michigan is…they can go 4 of 22 on treys and still land at the number!

Stifling night from the Michigan defense. Great at everything. Tons of forced turnovers. Few open looks inside the arc or outside. Defense always gives you a chance to win even if the shots aren’t falling. Houston shot 36% on deuces last week, totaling just 63 points on 65 estimated possessions. Tonight, FSU was 36% on deuces, totaling just 54 points on 65 estimated possessions.  

Preview math suggested Michigan would control its own destiny. A poor night from long range erased much of that control. 

Elite 8: Sunday previews using our Holy Trinity stat rankings

Two down, two to go. Let’s look at our key stat indicators for defense, rebounding and turnover avoidance in the East and Midwest regions. 

BOSTON

Villanova (-6.5/144.5) vs. Texas Tech (2:20 p.m. ET on CBS)

Texas Tech #3 defense, #47 rebounding, #149 TO avoidance

Villanova #22 defense, #64 rebounding, #7 TO avoidance

We chose not to focus so much on three-point shooting in terms of outlining expectations this month because that’s the most fickle stat. But Villanova combines an excellent composite in the Holy Trinity stats with explosiveness from long range. That’s why the Wildcats are the best team in the tournament on “any given day.” It will take a cooling off from behind the arc to make this a game.

Villanova’s Trey Performance

14 of 27 vs. Radford (52%, the equivalent of 78% on deuces)

17 of 41 vs. Alabama (41%, the equivalent of 62% on deuces)

13 of 24 vs. West Virginia (54%, the equivalent 81% on deuces)

Monster volume and stellar accuracy. Frankly, unbeatable. Hard to see Villanova losing to anybody if the Wildcats reach 13 made treys in that game. 

It’s Texas Tech’s job to make sure Villanova doesn’t get there. The Red Raiders will try to slow things down (ranking #247 in adjusted pace at kenpom.com) while showing off that defense that ranked #3 in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency before the tournament (and still does!). 

In terms of the Holy Trinity, Villanova gets the nod because of that huge edge in turnover avoidance. Then you throw in the potential for a runaway on treys. Your choice here seems to be between “Villanova can keep that championship level of performance going” or “Villanova is due for an off game, and Texas Tech is ideally suited to at least give them a headache for awhile.” Best of luck with your choice.

OMAHA

Duke (-3/154.5) vs. Kansas (5:05 p.m. ET on CBS)

Duke #7 defense, #5 rebounding, #120 TO avoidance 

Kansas #46 defense, #174 rebounding, #55 TO avoidance

A bit odd to see a #2 seed favored by this much over a #1 seed. Duke is certainly formidable in the areas of defense and rebounding, as that switch to the zone helped improve something the Blue Devils were already pretty good at. Kansas is faster, and cleaner with the basketball. Definitely a “Final Four” type game given the fact that Kansas is a #1 seed, while the market has been pricing Duke like a #1 seed throughout the postseason. 

Worth remembering that Duke’s postseason includes an ACC loss to North Carolina, and a Dance nail biter over Syracuse. Kansas keeps winning despite not playing at full health, as the Jayhawks continue to outperform what their Holy Trinity composite was suggesting. 

Rebounding jumps out as a potential problem area for Kansas. Let’s dig a little deeper there.

Kansas outrebounded #16 seed Pennsylvania 41-33

Kansas was outrebounded by #8 seed Seton Hall 39-32

Kansas was outrebounded by #5 seed Clemson 39-38

That’s a category loss vs. major conference opponents. Now, Kansas runs into a team that’s GREAT at rebounding. Though, Udoka Azubuike looks to be returning to his old self…Kansas wasn’t an impressive rebounding team when he was healthy. 

This could be important because Duke’s erratic three-point shooting matters less if the Blue Devils can get some second-chance opportunities. That was a problem vs. Syracuse, who’s better at rebounding than Kansas. 

Duke shot 13 of 30 on treys vs. Iona, won rebounding 39-29

Duke shot 10 of 21 on treys vs. URI, won rebounding 36-29

Duke shot 5 of 26 on treys vs. Syracuse, lost rebounding 37-33

Duke only beat Syracuse by four as a double-digit favorite. When Duke lost to North Carolina in the ACC tourney, it was 6 of 23 on treys with a tight 40-39 rebound win. The path for Kansas to spring the upset most likely involves denying open looks from outside then grabbing Duke misses. 

Before wrapping up today’s Dance coverage, let’s check on the markets. The first number up for Michigan/Loyola was Michigan -6. That leads to our estimate of “market” Power Ratings with six teams still alive…

NCAA Tournament Estimated “Market” Power Ratings

89: Villanova

87: Duke

84: Kansas, Michigan

82: Texas Tech

78: Loyola-Chicago

We had to squeeze Duke and Kansas closer together with the drop from -4 to -3. We went with 87 and 84. Maybe it’s 88 and 85. Won’t know for sure until we see how the winner is priced next week against the Villanova/Texas Tech survivor. It’s also possible that Michigan -6 over Loyola means 85-79 rather than 84-78. Because we had 84-78 entering the weekend, we stood pat. 

World Championship of Golf Match Play: Saturday Sweet 16 and Elite 8 results, Sunday odds for Final Foursome

First let’s recap the Round of 16 and quarterfinals from Saturday’s action in Austin, Texas. Results are presented in bracket order. 

ROUND OF 16 RESULTS

Bubba Watson (-125) beat Brian Harman (plus 105) 2 and 1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-130) beat Charles Howell III (plus 110) 1 up

Kyle Stanley (plus 170) beat Sergio Garcia (-190) 3 and 1

Justin Thomas (-250) beat Si-Woo Kim (plus 200) 6 and 5

Cameron Smith (plus 135) beat Tyrell Hatton (-155) 2 and 1 

Alexander Noren (plus 120) beat Patrick Reed (-140) 5 and 3 

Ian Poulter (-105) beat Louis Oosthuizen (-115) 2 and 1

Kevin Kisner (plus 125) beat Matt Kuchar (-145) 1 up 

Underdogs won five of the eight matches, though Poulter was still a (-) as a dog near pick-em. It’s so often the story in this event, and a great lesson about pro golf in general. The depth of quality of play means differences between golfers aren’t necessarily apparent in an 18-hole sprint. Markets price based on perceived differences over longer durations. Top seed Justin Thomas has been on a whole different level of late. That’s holding true this weekend. But, many big names couldn’t even reach the weekend despite the round-robin tweak that was added in recent years to reduce randomness. TV networks want BIG NAMES on the weekend, not lesser known LONG names like Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Bubba finally took care of that.

QUARTERFINAL RESULTS

Bubba Watson (-125) beat Kiradech Aphibarnrat (plus 105) 5 and 3

Justin Thomas (-250) beat Kyle Stanley (plus 200) 2 and 1

Alex Noren (-190) beat Cameron Smith (plus 160) 4 and 2

Kevin Kisner (plus 105) beat Ian Poulter (-125) 8 and 6

Chalk ruled three of these four, with the two biggest favorites winning fairly confidently. (Or, Justin Thomas was 2-0 as a -250 favorite, while all other Saturday favorites went 4-6) That sets up these matchups for Sunday morning. Westgate odds from Jeff Sherman’s twitter account @golfodds.

SUNDAY’S SEMIFINALS

Justin Thomas (-180) vs. Bubba Watson (plus 150)

Alex Noren (-150) vs. Kevin Kisner (plus 130)

Here are Westgate’s odds to win the title for the Final Foursome.

ODDS TO WIN TOURNAMENT

Justin Thomas 3/2 (40% win equivalent)

Alexander Noren 5/2 (29%)

Bubba Watson 3/1 (25%)

Kevin Kisner 5/1 (17%)

Those percentages add up to 111% because of the house edge inherent in futures pricing. 

NBA: Knee news…Steph Curry suffers a grade 2 MCL sprain, Kyrie Irving undergoes minor surgery

Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors received relatively good news Saturday when an MRI revealed only a Grade 2 MCL sprain rather than something worse. Curry was injured Friday night in a game vs. Atlanta. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks. It’s unknown now whether Curry will be available for the first round of the playoffs. 

Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics is expected to miss 3-6 weeks after undergoing minor surgery Saturday to remove a tension wire in his left knee. That very loose timetable means Irving could be back for the first round, but might not even be back for the beginning of the second round. 

Not much impact yet in futures prices. Golden State will be a prohibitive favorite in the first round of the Western brackets even without Curry. If he’s back healthy for the next round, championship potential won’t be affected at all. Boston would be favored without Irving in a 2-7 matchup in the East. He could be back for what will be a much-anticipated 2-3 second round matchup against either Cleveland or Philadelphia (possibly Indiana) assuming form holds in the first round. 

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