All previews: click here for the full 2018 NCAA tournament schedule
Kansas State Wildcats
Conference: Big Twelve
Date: Saturday, March 24
Time: 6:09 pm Eastern
Location: Atlanta, GA
Loyola-Chicago has history against them, as only three 11-seeds have ever advanced to the Final Four—1986 LSU, 2006 George Mason, and 2011 VCU. Perhaps surprisingly though, history is even more against K-State, since only one 9-seed has made the Final Four (2013 Wichita State).
Kansas State Loyola-Chicago
Strength: #42 Strength: #63
Pomeroy: #36 Pomeroy: #34
Offense: #78 Offense: #67
Defense: #14 Defense: #24
BPI: #42 BPI: #47
LRMC: #53 LRMC: #42
Consistency: #138 Consistency: #272
Schedule Strength: #36 Schedule Strength: #129
Tempo (Pomeroy): #307 Tempo: #319
AP Final Poll: #35 AP Final Poll: #27
AP Pre-season: #NR AP Pre-season: #NR
SportsRatings Genetic Model:
Model Rank: #36 Model Rank: #42
It's not often we even think of comparing a 9-seed to an 11-seed; the matchup can't occur in the first two rounds, and it's never happened in the 3rd round, Elite Eight or Final Four. So add another first to the 2018 NCAA tournament—a 9-seed playing an 11-seed. (Last week Kansas State was involved in another 'first' game, the 9-seed vs. 16-seed). In this case, with up-to-date rankings Kansas State is ahead by a lot in Strength, but it's close in the BPI, and Kenpom has the Ramblers ahead by a couple rungs. The pre-tournament LRMC already had Loyola in front. Both teams have mediocre offenses and strong defenses, so expect a lower-scoring game, especially since they both play slow tempos. Didn't we just hear from pundits that teams with good defense and slow tempos are "built for the regular season" ?
- Wins vs. tournament teams (8): (10)Oklahoma+18, (6)TCU+5, @(10)Texas+3, (10)Texas+10, =(6)TCU+OT, =(8)Creighton+11, =(16)UMBC+7, =(5)Kentucky+3
- Wins vs. Sweet Sixteen (1): =(5)Kentucky+3
- Losses to tournament teams (10): =(11)Arizona St.-2, (5)West Virginia-8, @(3)Texas Tech-16, @(1)Kansas-1, (1)Kansas-14, @(5)West Virginia-38, (3)Texas Tech-19, @(10)Oklahoma-9, @(6)TCU-7, =(1)Kansas-16
- Other losses (1): =Tulsa-7
Overview: By Selection Sunday Kansas State had played 15 tournament teams and beat 5 of them, not bad for a 9-seed, particularly since 3 of the losses came against 1-seed Kansas. They did lose to West Virginia by 38, but recovered to play comparatively well over their last 8 pre-Dance games. The Wildcats' win over Creighton was among their best performances, even without leading scorer Dean Wade who was unexpectedly gone. Instead Barry Brown led with 18 points. The win over UMBC was more workmanlike and K-State never really took charge until the end; Brown repeated his 18-point performance, however. Xavier Sneed put in 22 to help topple Kentucky.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (5): (14)Wright St.+4, @(6)Florida+6,=(6)Miami FL+2, =(3)Tennessee+1,=(7)Nevada+1
- Wins vs. Sweet Sixteen (1): =(7)Nevada+1
- Losses to tournament teams (0): none
- Other losses (5): @Boise St.-34, @Milwaukee-17, @Missouri St.-5, Indiana St.-4, @Bradley-2
Overview: Loyola-Chicago had some terrible losses earlier in the season: falling by 34 to Boise (game 8) and by 16 to 16-17 Milwaukee (game 12). But since losing 3 of 4 around the New Year, it's been smooth sailing behind a strong defense. After upsetting Miami behind leading scorer Clayton Custer's 14 points, the Ramblers are still undefeated against the tournament field. Against Tennessee it was sixth man Aundre Jackson leading with 16. And maybe the Ramblers really do have an unfair advantage with Sister Jean, as they won their third nail-biter against Nevada behind Marques Townes' 18 points and clutch late 3-pointer.
Game Analysis: It's no secret what both these teams are going to do: take their time on offense while stifling the other team on the defensive end. The result will almost certainly be a slow-paced game where neither team builds a big lead over the course of 38 minutes. Then both teams will hope to win in crunch time.
So we should look at the areas where the teams differ to gain insight. The Ramblers are better rebounders while K-State is better at creating turnovers. Kansas State's leading scorer Dean Wade played 8 minutes against Kentucky and scored 4 points, so don't expect he'll be a factor by Saturday; still, they've played about a point better than Loyola essentially without him, on average, during the tournament. Loyola's output during the tournament has been extremely consistent, while K-State has had peaks and valleys lately. It will depend on where the Wildcats fall on their chart
Kansas State by pick/1
Power rating: spread
Kansas State by 2.8
Game-comparisons: % Chance to win
Kansas St.: 56.7%
Vegas hasn't settled on a consensus winner as of this writing, but it looks like they're leaning to K-State by a point. The Strength power rating is more pro-Wildcat than the other powe ratings and has K-State by nearly three points, giving them a 57% chance to win. The BPI has the game a virtual tossup at 51.2% to 48.8%. There is no historical guide for the 9- vs. 11-seed matchup.
Bottom line: This matchup was created by chaos, so we look to the Gods of Chaos for an answer. Would that be the 11-seed winning? Perhaps, but the 9-seed getting to the Final Four is three times as rare. Real chaos would mean a break from these teams playing low-scoring, close games, so we need to pick a clear winner. This time, somebody will win easily, with offense. As K-State has been up and down, they're set for a "down" game, while the Ramblers play the same way each time out.
Final prediction: Loyola-Chicago 77, Kansas State 65
More previews: click here for the full 2018 NCAA tournament schedule.