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Missouri Valley Conference Final Preview: It’s a rematch at Arch Madness

Who has the edge in the Missouri Valley Final between Loyola Chicago and Drake?

NCAA Basketball: Missouri Valley Conference Tournament- Missouri State Bears vs Drake Bulldogs
Tremell Murphy and Roman Penn came up big for Drake in its semifinal victory against Missouri State.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch

Matchup: No. 4 Loyola Chicago vs. No. 3 Drake

When: Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Where: St. Louis

TV: CBS

Livestream: CBS Live TV, Paramount+ app on iOS and Google Play

DraftKings Spread: Loyola -4.5, O/U 133.5

How they got to the title game:

It will be Loyola Chicago and Drake once again in the Arch Madness final. Loyola Chicago beat the Bulldogs 75-65 in last year’s championship game, and Drake still made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid. They won’t have that possible luxury this season, it’s win or go home for the Bulldogs this season. While Loyola Chicago does have some security being on the right side of the bubble, but the Ramblers don’t want their NCAA Tournament hopes in the hands of the Selection Committee. Drake swept the regular season series against Loyola, but does Loyola has the edge in the most important battle, let’s break it down to find out.

Drake is coming off a classic 79-78 overtime victory Missouri State in the semifinals. Two of Drake’s main scorers played with four fouls over the final minutes. Drake’s star Tucker Devries (23 points) and Tremell Murphy (15 points) battled foul trouble, Roman Penn (19 points) made plays down the stretch in regulation. Penn also tallied seven assists, six rebounds and shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Drake is a team with a tons of experience but is tough as nails. It matches up with Loyola really well.

With Loyola you know what you’re going to get, tough as nails defensively and a slow methodical efficient offense. The Ramblers rank 35th in offensive efficiency, 8th in field goal percentage (49%), and 10th in 3-point percentage (38.5%). Senior wing Lucas Williamson is the guy to know. He is the Ramblers’ best on ball defender and leads the team in scoring at 14,1 points per game. What makes Loyola dangerous is on the defensive end. It showed that in its 66-43 win against Northern Iowa where it held the Panthers without a field goal for a 15-minute stretch. The Ramblers execute at an elite level, and they are tough out against anyone. However, they are not a lock to make the NCAA Tournament field according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. He has them as the last at-large team in the field. So I expect the Ramblers to be motivated to punch their ticket.

Prediction: Drake +4.5

I like Drake to cut down the nets this afternoon. Drake has had Loyola’s number all year, and I like the fact that they have 2-3 guys who can create their own shot on the floor. That’s necessary against Loyola’s defense. I love Penn at point guard, and Drake has shown it can have a sturdy defense as well. Drake is the team that’s playing with less pressure. It has won seven straight, and I think the public is going to blindly back Loyola because of the program’s brand. Getting two possessions with Drake here is great value.