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Free NCAA Pick Sunday

#818 Valparaiso +1.5 over Loyola-Chicago 3:00 PM CT

Loyola Chicago has established itself as perhaps the team to beat in the Missouri Valley with a 5-2 start in league play including four consecutive home wins. Wednesday’s win over Southern Illinois was a huge game for the program but there is reason to be skeptical of the Ramblers in road games with three of the next four away from home.

Loyola Chicago is just 4-3 S/U in road games this season including an ugly loss to Milwaukee in December. The conference road wins both came by slim margins and one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams isn’t likely to have the same success away from its familiar home surroundings. The Ramblers don’t shoot free throws particularly well and turnovers can also be a big problem at times. Valparaiso has lost nine of the last 12 games after starting the season 8-0.

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The Crusaders are one of the top defensive teams in the conference and four of five league defeats have come by single-digits. After a pair of road losses to two of the top Valley teams in the last week this home date is a huge opportunity with the only home loss all season for Valparaiso coming against the top rated team in the MVC. 3-point defense is a strong suit allowing just over 32 percent on the season to counter an area where Loyola Chicago generally has an edge. Depth and experience edges are with the hosts, particularly in the backcourt and this looks like a great upset opportunity for the Crusaders.

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