The Midwest Region is the region with the fully busted brackets. Was there anyone who had these four teams left after two games of the NCAA Tournament? Syracuse and Houston play in one Midwest Regional semifinal later on Saturday, and in the first game of the day, 12th-seeded Oregon State faces eighth-seeded Loyola-Chicago. Two teams on big runs in the month of March are riding the wave. That wave is going to crash into the rocks for one team, but the other one will continue to surf the ocean and ride into the Elite Eight. There is a real sense that anything can happen… because it already has in this region of the NCAA bracket. Let’s take a closer look at this matchup as well as the odds in the sportsbook.
Oregon State Beavers vs Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Date: Saturday, March 27th, 2021 – 2:40 PM ET
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
College Basketball Odds: Loyola -6.5
Oregon State Beavers
The Beavers are playing their best ball of the season right now, so even though they are a 12 seed, they are playing more like a No. 7 seed. They didn’t just beat Tennessee and Oklahoma State; they beat those two higher-seeded teams by double-figure margins. Oregon State beat a Tennessee team that was the preseason favorite to win the SEC, and the Beavers then scored an even bigger upset by knocking Cade Cunningham – the projected No. 1 player in the upcoming NBA draft pick – out of the March Madness betting action. Oklahoma State was picked by some to be the Midwest Region champion.
A lot of people thought the Cowboys would be the team to take out top-seeded Illinois, though Loyola-Chicago got there first. Oklahoma State could have had a favorable path to the Final Four, but Oregon State said no. Everyone is producing on this team, either on offense or defense. Players are making contributions throughout the lineup; this isn’t a case of one or two players carrying the Beavers on their backs. The defense is bothersome, and Oregon State shot an extremely high percentage of free throws in the win over Oklahoma State. This team is doing all the little things and putting forth maximum effort. We didn’t see that in the regular season, but all the pieces fit for this team right now, which makes OSU legitimately dangerous.
The Ramblers were seeded eighth in this region, which many felt was way too low… and the first weekend of March Madness proved as much. Loyola-Chicago doesn’t look or play like a cute and cuddly underdog. The Ramblers looked like the No. 1 seed against Illinois, and the Fighting Illini looked like a No. 8 seed which wasn’t quite sure of itself.
The biggest story from the Loyola win over Illinois was that Loyola big man Cameron Krutwig – a member of Loyola’s 2018 Final Four team – outplayed Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn. If you look at the two men physically, Cockburn has several inches and several dozen pounds on Krutwig. Cockburn is as close to Shaquille O’Neal as any college big man in quite some time, strictly in terms of raw physical enormity. He’s huge. Yet, he doesn’t have Shaq’s footwork or skill, and Krutwig exposed those limitations in a brilliant performance. Oregon State big man Roman Silva has played well in this NCAA Tournament, but Krutwig is a noticeably better player. As long as Krutwig wins his matchup with Silva, Loyola should be able to beat Oregon State on the boards and control the way this game is played.