Coming off of a win against the Wyoming Cowboys in the first round of the Fort Myers Tip-off, the Eagles advance to the Championship round for a date against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. The whole nation fell in love with the Ramblers and Sister Jean during the team’s remarkable March Madness tournament run last season which eventually came to an end in the Final Four against a dominant Michigan squad. Now, the team returns looking for a repeat season and to put the school back on the college basketball radar with a host of starters returning from their Cinderella team. One of the pit stops they make is in Fort Myers Florida where they now will face a shaky Boston College team looking to get their season back on track. So let’s take a look at where both of these teams currently stand heading into the Wednesday night finale.
Loyola Chicago Ramblers (4-1)
The Ramblers were able to advance to the next round after a strong performance against the Richmond Spiders winning by a score of 82-66. However, it was certainly a tale of two-halves with the Spiders leading at the break by three and actually leading by as many as nine at one point throughout the match. Yet, Lucas Williamson was able to have the hot hand for Loyola capitalizing on 9-11 shooting from the field and finishing with 23 points. Similar to what we all saw in March Madness earlier this year, the Ramblers were very efficient from the field connecting on 31-50 shots in the match. Furthermore, they were able to control the offensive glass by an advantage of 9-1 against the Spiders and outscore Richmond in second-chance points 11-0.
Granted it is early in the season, but already this team seems like they have the capabilities of once again being a high seed in the tournament this season as they have pretty much blanked all of their opponents this season. While they have not exactly faced the cream of the crop in talent thus far, the Ramblers have beaten their opponents by an average of 19 points and they don’t show any signs of slowing down. The team’s only loss this season came against an undefeated Furman team who some analysts have voted as deserving a spot in the AP Top 25 after their shocking OT win against the defending National Champions, the Villanova Wildcats. So, we will give that loss a pass as it surely is not as bad as say losing to a team like IUPUI.
It has been proven this team can shoot effectively. Through the first five games of the season, the Rambles are shooting 53% from the field and 33% from 3-point range. Keep an eye out for the likes of Williamson and Clayton Custer who are two of the main offensive catalysts for Loyola.
Boston College Eagles (3-1)
Katie did an excellent post-game write up on the Wyoming game so I won’t belabor the outcome of the game and instead will offer a few of my own personal observations. I don’t know what it is about this team, but they simply seem allergic to leads. At no point yesterday should I have to had to bite off any of my nails and worry about blowing a 22 point lead. Once an ACC team of this caliber has a lead like that it should be chalked up as a secured win with no threat of an utter train-wreck. However, this team has yet to prove that they can cruise to a solid a win and always have to fight tooth and nail to get a W. With Wyoming in particular, there were spurts where only a few quick threes from the Cowboys could have given them enough momentum to get them across the finish line with a phenomenal comeback and upset.
Additionally, this team needs to watch their hands and stop committing so many unnecessary fouls. I cannot find a specific statistic on how many fouls this team has committed this season, but it feels as though I have seen them put their opponents into the double bonus just about every half this season thus far. Against Wyoming in particular, they allowed the Cowboys to shoot 41 free throws. That simply is inexcusable.
Going into this Championship match-up against an up-and-coming team like Loyola, BC needs to clean up the glass effectively to prevent second-chance opportunities, limit turnovers of which they are average 11 per game, and guard the three-point line like their lives depend on it. It sounds like a simple formula to success, but obviously it is easier said than done and BC has yet to prove that they can clean-up any one of these areas.
The game tips-off at 7:30 ET and can be streamed on Fox Sports 1. Go Eagles!