Team: Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers League: MVC Record: 24-4 (1st Place)
The Ramblers finished atop the MVC regular-season standings, won the conference tournament this past Sunday to earn an automatic bid to the big dance, and go into the tournament on a six-game win streak.
Loyola is led by a defense allowing the fewest PPG in the nation (55.5) and is scoring 71.5 PPG
Three key stats help explain Loyola’s dominance on the defensive end:
They are holding opponents to the fewest FTA/G (11.4) in the country.
They are giving up the second-fewest ORB/G (6.5) in the country.
They are allowing the 22nd fewest CnS FGA/G (12.4) in the country.
Overall, Loyola is holding opponents to the 11th fewest FGA/G (51.6) and 3PA/G (17.3) in the country, and their opponents are shooting just 44.7% on 2PA and 32.6% on 3PA (.461 eFG%).
Not to mention, they are a solid shooting team from inside and outside. They are shooting 58.7% on 2PA and 36.8% on 3PA, good for the 5th best FG% (.505) in the country (57.5 eFG%).
Cameron Krutwig leads Loyola in scoring (15.0 PPG) and is their only player in double-figures.
He’s shooting 57.9% on 11.0 FGA/G and leads the team in TRB (6.7), AST (3.0), & BLK (1.2).
After Krutwig, their rotation features six players who average 18+ Min/G and 7+ PPG.
Lucas Williamson (.360 on 4.0 3PA/G), Braden Norris (.400 on 4.3 3PA/G), Aher Uguak (.355 on 1.1 3PA/G), and Keith Clemons (.467 on 2.8 3PA/G) are all 3PT threats and in the starting lineup.
Loyola uses a four-out set, in which they space the floor, get the ball and players moving, share the rock, rarely let it stick, and patiently work for open threes and buckets around the rim.
Their offense runs through Braden Norris at the point of attack and Cameron Krutwig as the big man in the middle.
They initiate the offense with Norris in PnR, coming off Krutwig screens, and with Krutwig in the high post. They run their perimeter players off stagger screens and pin-downs into handoffs from Krutwig at the top of the key. They have a number of perimeter players who can hit open shots (1.098 PPP - Catch & Shoot Jumpers) and they come off screens and handoffs ready to let it fly.
They also clear it out for Krutwig post-ups (1.035 PPP), feed him the ball, and let him go to work.
They also excel when pushing the ball off turnovers and misses. They are fast, athletic, decisive attacking the basket, and guys run out expecting the ball to be pushed ahead with the pass.
According to Synergy, Loyola plays man defense in 99% of their defensive possessions.
Their defense functions at an elite level because they are disciplined, play together, defend with effort, and have a rotation of smart, versatile, athletic defenders, who are all on the same page.
They apply active ball pressure, switch most screens, swarm the ball, wall up and contest without fouling, get a ton of deflections with active hands, and are quick to dive on loose balls.
They make teams work hard for open looks and often force tough shots at the end of the clock.
On screens with Krutwig, he typically shows at the level of the screen, gives his man time to fight over, and then quickly recovers, but he is capable of switching and holding his own when needed.
In their respective areas, Norris and Krutwig are studs for Loyola on the defensive end as well.
Krutwig thrives at defending post-ups, protecting the rim, and holding down the defensive glass.
He’s balanced, walls up with physicality, and is hard to move off his spot. He has long arms, is a savvy shot-blocker and, when drives to the rim are funneled to him, he swallows them up.
Norris is a tenacious on-ball defender, with great positioning and quick feet/hands. He’s tough to shake and is always ready to poke the ball free, dive on the floor, and put his body on the line.