Dayton vs Loyola Chicago Odds, Picks and Predictions: Holmes, Watson Hounded by Opposing Defenses

DaRon Holmes and the Dayton Flyers face a stern test in Desmond Watson and the defensively-sound Loyola Chicago Ramblers on Friday night. Our college basketball picks give plenty of credit to Dayton's defense in this matchup as well.

Mar 1, 2024 • 13:56 ET • 4 min read
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The Atlantic 10 takes center stage on Friday with a crucial clash at the top of the conference. The Loyola Chicago Ramblers welcome the No. 21 Dayton Flyers to Joseph J. Gentile Arena, with these programs pushing for the top spot in the A-10.

Both schools own a 12-3 conference record with Dayton’s three blemishes all coming on the road, most recently an upset loss at George Mason. However, the Flyers bounced back in a big way with a one-sided win over Davidson on Tuesday and the college basketball odds have them installed as short road chalk tonight.

The Ramblers watched their season-long winning streak end at St. Bonaventure this week and this matchup with ranked Dayton is a big step up in competition when you look at the opponents that made up that seven-game run.

I size up the spread and Over/Under total for this A-10 affair and give my best college basketball picks and predictions for Dayton at Loyola Chicago on Friday, March 1.

Dayton vs Loyola Chicago best odds

Dayton vs Loyola Chicago picks and predictions

It may only be March 1, but the “madness” will be at Macho Man levels in the Windy City tonight. 

The Loyola Chicago Ramblers and Dayton Flyers are locked in the No. 2 spot in the Atlantic 10 with the schedule in the home stretch, giving this matchup a playoff-like atmosphere. The winner will have the inside track for a higher seed in the conference tournament and a shot at catching Richmond for first place.

Joseph J. Gentile Arena will have another sold-out crowd fueling one of the best home defenses in the land. Loyola Chicago gives up just under 61 points per homestand, limiting those visitors to an effective field goal rate of 40.4% — lowest in the country. That earned the Ramblers a Top-40 spot in the hallowed defensive efficiency metric and makes them the second-best defense in the A-10.

Dayton is a very sound scoring attack but has run into trouble against tougher defenses. The Flyers were flat against Richmond (No. 1 defense in A-10), scoring only 64 points in a road loss on Jan. 27 and mustered just 46 points against VCU (No. 3) on Feb. 9.

The Flyers run a very patient approach on offense, ticking deep into the shot clock as they search for open space. Dayton will have trouble finding those look inside the arc against the Ramblers, who do a great job pushing opponents away from the rim and limiting the high-percentage shots.

The Flyers’ biggest weapon is their poise from the perimeter, with Dayton averaging the 27th-most 3-point makes per contest. That average is pumped up by their sharp shooting at home, where they knocked down more than 10 triples. Away from home, however, Dayton makes just over eight shots from beyond the arc on 37.2% success (versus 41.1% at home).

Let's not sell the Flyers' defense short, either. Dayton is No. 3 in defensive efficiency in the A-10 and does an extremely good job protecting the perimeter. It locks down outside shooters to 30.5% from beyond the arc on the road while giving up only 66.3 points as a visitor, which is a tough fit for Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers pick up almost 34% of their total offense from outside.

Game models range between 134 points and 138 for tonight’s tilt. The total opened as high as 137.5 and has trimmed to as low as 136.5 at most operators, but the high end of that number is available as of Friday morning.

My best bet: Under 137.5 (-112 at Pinnacle)

Dayton vs Loyola Chicago same-game parlay

Under 137.5

DaRon Holmes Under 21.5 points

Desmond Watson Under 12.5 points

With some models as low as 134 points and this game likely played at a slow tempo with postseason-like intensity, we get a low-scoring finish against two of the better defenses in the country.

DaRon Holmes shrunk against top-tier defenses like Richmond and VCU, finishing well below his scoring average of 20 points. Player projections call for less than 19 points tonight and even that seems high considering the competition.

Desmond Watson averages just short of 13 points per game and tonight’s tilt with the Flyers will be a defensive grinder. Forecasts top out at eight points for the Ramblers guard.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Dayton vs Loyola Chicago spread and Over/Under analysis

Dayton opened as high as a 2-point road favorite on Thursday evening and the overnight action took the points with the home underdog, trimming this spread to as low as Flyers -1 at some books. 

According to Covers Consensus, however, 67% of early picks are laying the short chalk with Dayton. The Flyers are 5-3-1 ATS in true road games this season but just 1-3 SU and ATS in their last four away games overall.

After losing at George Mason as 3.5-point road faves, the Flyers showed why they’re ranked among the Top 25 with a solid two-way effort against Davidson. Dayton erupted out of the blocks with a 40-21 lead at halftime and won 88-66, with six players scoring in double figures.

On the season, the Flyers are No. 16 in offensive efficiency and anchored in a methodical halfcourt offense that patiently uses screens and movement to create open looking, leading to a 12th-highest effective field goal rate in the country. Dayton does, however, see a downtick in production away from home, averaging only 69.8 points on the road versus 77.8 at home.

Loyola Chicago ran out of gas last time out, scoring just 64 points on 38% shooting in the loss to the Bonnies. That was the Ramblers’ third-lowest offensive output of the year and a significant swerve for an attack averaging more than 72 points on the season. 

The “Fighting Sister Jeans” rank 38th in defensive efficiency at KenPom and do a stellar job protecting the paint and limiting easy looks, especially at home. Loyola Chicago allows only 60.9 points as a host (compared to 75.2 ppg on the road), leading to a 13-2 SU and 8-6 ATS mark inside Joseph J. Gentile Arena.

Tonight’s Over/Under total opened at 137.5 points and has been bet down to 136.5. As of early Friday morning, Covers Consensus is showing 58% of picks taking the Over in this important A-10 battle. 

Dayton is 15-11-1 Over/Under so far this season, including a 4-5 O/U mark in true road games. The Flyers have played Over the total in three straight contests coming into Friday and are 5-1-1 O/U in its last seven game overall.

As for Loyola Chicago, it boasts an 11-15-1 O/U count with a 4-10 O/U record at home. The Ramblers have leaned toward the Over a little more in the past month and a half, going 7-4-1 O/U in their last dozen games heading into tonight.

Dayton vs Loyola Chicago betting trend to know

Loyola Chicago has gone Under the game total in 12 of its last 18 games at home (+5.40 units). Find more college basketball betting trends for Dayton vs. Loyola Chicago.

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Dayton vs Loyola Chicago game info

Location: Joesph J. Gentile Arena, Chicago, IL
Date: Friday, March 1, 2024
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2

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