The eleventh-seeded, and 28-5 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers from the Missouri Valley Conference will meet the sixth-seeded and 22-9 Miami Hurricanes out of the Atlantic Coast Conference at 2:10 PM CT time on Thursday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Very similar to the Ramblers in their style of play, the Hurricanes average 74.2 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting from the field on offense. On defense, they only allow opposing teams to score an average of 68.0 points per game while holding them to 43.0 percent shooting as a team.
In order to come away with a win against Loyola-Chicago, Miami must maintain its balanced offensive attack while also playing solid defense for 40 minutes. Jim Larranaga’s team has seven players averaging at least 8.7 points per game, which will make it very difficult on Loyola-Chicago’s defense every possession Miami has the ball.
Having so many players capable of scoring the basketball, the Ramblers must be disciplined in their defensive rotations, communicate on the court, and be attentive to what is going on at all times. Any lapses by the Ramblers and the Hurricanes will certainly convert them into two easy points, as they are a team that is very patient when in possession of the basketball and waits for a good shot to arise before pulling the trigger.
As for the Ramblers, playing the way they have consistently played all season long on both ends of the floor will give them a chance to win the game.
To begin with, point guard Clayton Custer and the other Rambler guards must take care of the ball and, most importantly, take what the defense gives them. If Miami is allowing them to penetrate into the lane with little resistance, then they should look to be aggressive and score the basketball or find open teammates on the wing.
On the other hand, if the Hurricanes try to trap Custer or any of the other Rambler guards in an effort to get the ball out of their hands, then they should deliver the ball to their teammates and have confidence in them to run the offense effectively and efficiently.
For many of the Ramblers players, the NCAA Tournament is a stage in which they have not yet experienced. Knowing that, if the game is tightly contested late in the second half, they must stay calm and continue to play the same way they have all season. They have to try their best to not let nerves get the best of them.
With the leadership that this team has, though, I do not think getting rattled will be an issue whatsoever.
Porter Moser must let his team know the importance of not taking any possessions off on defense, because if they do Miami guards Lonnie Walker, Anthony Lawrence Jr., and Ja’Quan Newton will make plays against the defense and in turn build confidence in themselves that they can score against Loyola-Chicago every time they have the ball.
I believe that Porter Moser’s Loyola-Chicago Ramblers will upset the Miami Hurricanes in a low scoring game that goes down to the final minutes, advancing the Ramblers to the Round of 32.