Previewing 2018-19 Men’s Basketball: Loyola Chicago

boston college men's basketball

The title for the inaugural Fort Myers Tip-Off Tournament will be on the line on Wednesday night, and Boston College men’s basketball has a chance to claim it. The Eagles defeated Wyoming on Monday in a bounce-back game after a surprising setback to a poorly ranked IUPUI team. Loyola University Chicago (4-1) awaits in the championship game, a team that’s receiving votes in the AP Poll and is off to a hot start this season after dancing all the way to the Final Four last year. This experienced group will be a tough test for the Eagles (3-1), as it’s the first matchup this season that BC will enter as an underdog. Overcoming this strong Ramblers team for an early season tournament title would be a statement win for the program and would help to silence some of the team’s doubters.

Who is BC playing?
Loyola Chicago

When is BC playing?
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
Suncoast Credit Union Arena, Fort Myers, Fla.

How to Watch:
This game will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 1.

By the Numbers:

BC

1) Ky Bowman has been nothing short of spectacular in his first four games, averaging 24.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The junior notched a career-high 38 points on 22 shots in his last game against Wyoming, knocking down seven 3-pointers.

2) BC is outrebounding its opponents by a margin of 4.3 per game. In each of the Eagles’ three wins this season, they have tallied at least eight more rebounds than their opponents. Steffon Mitchell leads the way in this category, averaging just shy of 10 boards per game.

3) BC has struggled to find a rhythm from 3-point range so far. The Eagles are shooting at just a 32 percent clip—a three-point dip from last season—and typical marksman Jordan Chatman has connected on just 7-of-20 attempts.

Loyola Chicago

1) The Ramblers have featured a diverse scoring attack so far. Through five games, three players—Clayton Custer, Marques Townes, and Cameron Krutwig—are all averaging at least 13 points per game. More impressively, each of the three are also shooting better than 50 percent from the field.

2) Loyola Chicago is an unselfish team, as it averages 14 assists per game. This is four more than its opponents, and it is not just the guards who distribute the ball well—the Ramblers have eight players with at least five assists on the season.

3) An area where the Ramblers have struggled so far has been the free throw line. They are only shooting 58 percent (334th in the country) from the charity stripe with a lone player—Cooper Kaifes—hitting at better than a 70 percent clip.

Last Meeting:

The two Jesuit institutions have never met, but the Eagles have played teams in the Missouri Valley Conference seven times in their history, going 5-2. The last time that BC squared off against a foe from the MVC was during the 2009-10 season, when it lost, 81-69, to Northern Iowa. Corey Raji scored 18 points in the losing effort. The Eagles led by three going into the half, but the Huskies pulled away in the second half to secure the victory.

Outlook:

The Ramblers are the best team that BC will have played so far this season, so the Eagles can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes. Against Wyoming, they took care of the ball, which they will need to do against this pesky Loyola Chicago side—the Ramblers are 34th in the country in defensive efficiency per KenPom. Perimeter defense has been a weak spot over the course of the Eagles’ first four games and closing out on shooters while making 3-pointers of their own could swing the game in their favor.

The rebounding battle has been vital for the Eagles in their wins this season. Allowing few offensive rebounds while getting second-chance opportunities of their own could be another factor in this championship game. Loyola Chicago enters 10th in the country in limiting opposing rebound attempts on the offensive boards, but a weak early schedule has something to do with that. Still, the battle on the boards will likely be a big determinant in who leaves Florida with a title. Jim Christian went deep into his bench in the win against the Cowboys, and role-player contributions from the likes of Jairus Hamilton, Chris Herren Jr., and Vin Baker Jr. could all make a difference in this game. While another herculean effort from Bowman would surely be welcomed, a more complete offensive attack might be what the Eagles need to claim victory in Fort Myers.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor