So… Ohio State and Loyola Chicago are playing. Just can’t say it’s good basketball. The Buckeyes have a 9-7 lead with 11:44 remaining in the first half. A first half that has seen a combined seven turnovers and seven fouls. Maybe there’s something about those new basketballs that apparently every player (or at least all of Iowa’s) hates.
We’ve got Ohio State vs. Loyola Chicago to start the day here at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. A quick check of the line shows it has flipped back to the Ramblers as a one-point favorite. That’s where the line opened Sunday, but it had moved to the Buckeyes as a one-point favorite Thursday.
Basically…even money is being wagered on both teams. Ohio State as the supposed favorite (by seed) from the Big Ten. Loyola as everybody’s new favorite team to pull an upset (by seed).
“(EJ) Liddell is a mismatch problem,” Loyola coach Drew Valentine said Thursday. “He’s a mismatch problem for everybody in the country. He’s an All-American for a reason. I saw a ton of him in high school, obviously, with being from the state, so a lot of respect for him.”
There was a late change for Ohio State’s starting lineup, though, that will take a bit of pressure off Liddell. Kyle Young wasn’t initially listed as a starter, but the veteran big man is apparently good to go after missing the last three games while in concussion protocol.
“I think it’s activity for one,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said about Young’s impact on the Buckeyes. “He’s really active. And it is versatility. It’s activity and versatility, and then he helps our rebounding a lot, too. I think those two things. He’s also gotten smarter as he’s gotten older in how to defend and play. You know, just the versatility that he provides. I feel like I’ve banged that drum for months now. I feel like that’s really important.”
The first full day of NCAA tournament games only solidified the fact March Madness is the world’s greatest sporting event.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 18, 2022
Some highly-seeded teams were challenged and then pulled out all the stops to turn their first-round matchup into a rout. Looking at you Gonzaga. Other top teams simply cruised. Baylor and Kansas didn’t give their opponents much of a chance.
Then there were the higher-ranked teams that crumbled. Kentucky. Iowa. UConn. Mostly Kentucky.
Saint Peter’s taking down the Wildcats in overtime was the highlight of the night. (No offense to Teddy Allen and New Mexico State or Richmond completely bottling up Iowa’s Keegan Murray in the second half).
Here’s hoping today delivers more of the same. I’ll be posted up somewhere at PPG Paints Arena for the entire slate of games in Pittsburgh. The days starts with Ohio State-Loyola Chicago — what a juicy matchup — before Delaware tries to pull a Saint Peter’s and knock off No. 2-seeded Villanova.
— Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) March 18, 2022
Then comes the game everyone that regularly rocks orange and blue is excited to see. Illinois-Chattanooga at 5:50 pm on TNT and WDWS 1400-AM/93.9 FM. Illini fans, presumably, are counting on upsets to happen elsewhere. Houston-UAB will wrap up the full day of basketball in western Pennsylvania.
Follow along right here for complete coverage.