Loyola-Chicago: A First Glance

Submitted by Bambi on March 25th, 2018 at 11:37 PM

I did a fairly in depth diary previewing Texas A&M last week. Now that we're in the Final Four I wanted to do something similar for Loyola-Chicago. The preview I did for TAMU looked at their statistical profiles on KenPom and Torvik and also included some player previews and key takeaways. In all honesty, that's all covered pretty well and good by Brian/Ace/Seth/Alex/Dylan (UMHoops). Instead for Loyola, I wanted to look at their team at a high level, see what stands out about them and finally see how Michigan might be able to exploit Loyola differently than the teams who have already played them this tournament.

Season Info

  • 32-5, 15-3 in the MVC, regular season and tournament champs
  • 33rd on Torvik, 57th AdjO, 25th AdjD
  • 30th on KenPom, 60th AdjO, 18th AdjD
  • 1-1 in Q1 games before the torunament (W @ Florida, L @ Boise)

Team Profile - What Stands Out?

  • Loyola's defense is its better side of the ball by a significant margin on both KenPom and Torvik. They do this mainly by being good at everything. They're top 60 nationally in the major defensive categories on Torvik except TO rate where they are 102nd, so still above average. The two things they are great at is not fouling (15th lowest FT rate in the nation) and 3 point D (26th best 3 point defense by percentage).
  • As has been mentioned before, it's argued that the ability to prevent 3P shots from going up is the best indicator of a teams 3P defense. In that regard Loyola is pretty average at a 36.6% rate which puts them at 140th nationally. Hopefully this means their great 3P D is a little misleading and opportunities will be had.
  • On Offense, Loyola is a team of extremes. Their eFG% is 5th nationally but they are dragged down by their inability to rebound offensively, get to the line and their very high TO rate. 
  • Loyola's eFG% is so high because they are 10th nationally in both 2P and 3P shooting percentages. That being said, they only shoot 3's 35.8% of the time, which is good for the 214th highest rate in the nation. 
  • Loyola plays with an AdjT of 65.2 possessions a game which is the 315th slowest tempo in the country. This matches Michigan who is at 64.5 and 326th nationally.
  • According to KenPom they are the luckiest team left in the tournament at 20th nationally (Kansas is 21, Michigan is 65, Nova is 223). Luck here refers to the difference between a team's statistical profile and record, so Loyola is significantly out performing their statistical profile.
  • Loyola this tournament has been playing 7 guys regularly in the rotation. They might throw out an 8th and a 9th guy for about 5 minutes a game each, but their starters plus two bench guys take up the majority of the minutes.
  • Loyola only has one guy on their team taller than 6'6, RS Fr Cameron Krutwig who is 6'9. They have one 6'6 F and one 6'5 F and besides that everyone else is pretty much 6'3 or 6'4.  

How Does Michigan Differ From Loyola's Past Opponents

So right off the bat the obvious answer is Michigan's better. The best team Loyola has played has been Tennessee, 12th/13th on Torvik/KenPom compared to Michigan who is 7th on both. But ignoring that and going into specifics, what is different about Michigan from the teams Loyola has already played and how can Michigan use this to beat Loyola?

  1. Size: As I mentioned above, Loyola is a pretty small team. Only one guy taller than 6'6 (6'9 Cameron Krutwig) and two more guys taller than 6'4. Surprisingly, every other team Loyola has played has been in the same mold. 
  • Kansas State: Their best player 6'10 Dean Wade was out, so KSU had 6'9 Maikol Maiwen play 19 minutes and 6'8 Levi Stockard play 7. Everyone else was 6-5 or shorter.
  • Nevada: 6'8 Elijah Foster played 3 minutes, everyone else was 6'7 or shorter.
  • Tennessee: Starting C 6'11 Kyle Alexander missed the game, so they got 7 minutes from 6'9 Jordan Fulkerson and 18 minutes from 6'8 Derrick Walker. They had one other 6'7 player and everyone else was 6'5 or shorter.
  • Miami: Only team to break this mold with a 6'9, 6'10 and 6'11 guy.


  • So Loyola, except for the one game against Miami (who is 37th on KenPom so          significantly worse than us) to start the tournament, has not faced any real size. What they have faced has been small teams like their own or backup bigs as KSU    and Tennessee were down their starting 5's. Between Teske/Moe at the 5 and            Livers/Robinson at the 4, Michigan should have a big height advantage.
  1. Perimeter Shooting From Bigs: This is related to the previous bullet but as said the only team with real size Loyola has faced is Miami. The rest of the teams were injured and small or just small. What size Loyola has faced, however, have been traditional bigs. They have yet to face a player like Moe who can stretch the floor from the 5. If you've seen Loyola play, the one big guy they have is very much a low post big. He's 6'9 260, his arms look like they're all fat, and this is after losing 30 pounds last year during his RS year. Having him play on the perimeter and run around following Moe is not what he's comfortable doing. This should be a big advantage for Michigan scoring on the perimeter but also to remove Loyola's minimal size from the paint and/or game and increase our own size advantage.
  2. 3 Point Gap: The idea of Michigan trying to create a 3 point gap has been discussed a lot on this site. So far this tournament, Loyola has hit 30 3's on 42% shooting so far while their opponents have hit 3 26 3's on 29% shooting. As I said Loyola is not a team that tries to create a 3 point gap, and the same goes for all of their previous opponents. Loyola's previous opponents have been able to get 3 point shots up, they just haven't been hitting them (granted this is probably partially due to Loyola's D and the quality of those looks). As I described with the bigs above, Michigan should be more well equipped to get open 3's. If Michigan can hit these looks and put an emphasis on shutting down Loyola's 3 point attemps, which no other previous opponent has done, Michigan can win this 3 point gap again. 
  3. Turnovers/Transition Points: One of Loyola's biggest weaknesses offensively is their propensity to turn the ball over. Every single player has a TO% of at least 14.5 and they are 214th nationally with a 18.9% TO rate. So far this tournament they have turned the ball over 51 times (12.75) to their opponents 39 (9.75 a game). The players with the two highest assist rates for Loyola have TO rates of 19% and 22%. To me this seems like a matchup where Z can force a lot of turnovers on their primary ball handlers and we can force a lot of live ball turnovers. This should lead to a lot of transition point opportunities for us. Loyola plays at a very slow tempo (comparable to ours), doesn't force turnovers, and we don't turn the ball over. This seems like a game where we should win the TO battle by more than the 3 TOs a game difference Loyola is currently at and thus have a substantial edge in transition points.
  4. Health: I mentioned this breifly above, but Loyola has had some good luck with regards to their opponents' health. Miami was healthy when they played but Tennessee was down their starting C, Nevada has been missing their starting PG since early February, and KSU was missing their starting C and best player. The fact that we are healthy is a big advantage for us compared to their previous 4 opponents.



March 26th, 2018 at 12:14 AM ^

It'll be weird having a game that doesn't involve UM facing a team with completely clashing styles, pace, size, etc etc.. If Moe can do enough to make them respect his three ball, then there should be ample opportunities to attack the basket for MAAR, Matthews, and maybe even Zavier. Unless we're ice cold again, they are probably going to have to choose to leave Zavier or Moe wide open from the 3 -- unless Krutwig can really scoot and recover on the screens up top. Sagging off of Zavier is a strategy that I'm surprised more teams haven't taken (maybe bc Moe is good at slipping the screen and popping open for 3).


March 26th, 2018 at 9:08 AM ^

If youve watched Loyola at all you know there is absolutely zero chance Krutwig can do what you suggest. Im thinking bloodbath here. Loyola had good matchups the first four games. Now they are facing a team that does everything they do only much better and adds a 5 that can shoot threes. I honestly cant see a path to victory for Loyola that doent include the refs totally screwing Michigan. They were pretty much put together to be Michigans bitch.

Thanks again Bambi. Your previews have been awesome and work very well in conjunction with the staffs content.


March 27th, 2018 at 11:45 PM ^

to not get too angry when this happens: "...the refs totally screwing Michigan."

If Z and Mo get 'officialed' and we shoot like we did against FSU, it could be a depressing weekend.  So I'm hoping we are superior enough to overcome it; will need all contributors.

They are a big underdog to the rest of the country, the nation wants them to win, and it will be very difficult for this to not effect officiating.  We could see Mo get early fouls covering Krutwig.  Z getting it for hands.  Probably an odd collection of a bunch of other frustrating ticky-tack stuff that won't go both ways.

However, I think this is a game where X and Matthews should be able to exploit the dribble drive as there is no one going to come all the way from the three point line to block shots.  Will be surprised to not see screen, slip; drive, 3; drive, score.  A lot.  I do not think they are quick enough afoot to stop this and will have to help on dribble penetration by Z, Rahk, and Matthews.  7 or 8 3s ought to win it for us.  If we get any form of hot from deep, we will blow them out - fouls on Mo or not.


March 26th, 2018 at 7:49 AM ^

Krutwig has averaged 21.25 minutes a game this tournament. If you take out Nevada it's 24. That's a good amount of playing time even including Nevada. You guys could go small against Nevada because everyone was 6'7 on their team, that's not the case here.

Part of the point of this post is going small against us isn't a necessarily a good idea. It worked earlier in the year with Nebraska against us because they had a guy like Isaiah Roby who was versatile enough to guard the perimeter and interior at 6'8. We've gotten a lot better at attacking the switch all approach now, and having a 6'6 guy check 6'11 Wagner or 7'1 Teske (what Jackson would have to do in a small lineup) will probably end poorly for you guys even before any switching occurs.


March 26th, 2018 at 8:28 AM ^

I can't get a real great read on them.  They really do remind me of a Beilein team we've seen in the past.  Slow, shoot really well, don't foul, don't rebound great.  Their center, Krutwig is their highest usage guy (by a slim margin), and also their highest ORTG guy.  However, he absolutely does not shoot threes.  He shoots 60% on twos which is how I guess he makes up for it, but he does not seem like an superior athlete.  Appears nimble, but a below the rim player.  Almost like a less athletic Jorgan Morgan?  I don't know what to make of that. 

I kind of think just stick on perimeter players and don't give them open looks from 3; don't help off.  They get a lot of good shots getting the defense over-rotating and sagging off it looks like.  Try and make Krutwig beat you with twos.  Moe will have a great opportunity to have a big game offensively.  But if he's not bring it, put Teske is and see if Krutwig can still score down low against a 7'1" guy who it turns out is a pretty damn good post defender.


March 26th, 2018 at 9:17 AM ^

Admittedly I haven't watched much Loyola basketball this year, but I think the older versions of Michigan Beilein teams comparison is fairly accurate. They have generally have 4 shooters on the court with one traditional big. I think they do a good job of passing around the perimeter and moving off ball to get shooters open but also wing players for backcuts.

They're a very good 3 point shooting team even though they don't take a ton of them. They don't seem to force up a lot of looks, more that they'll wait for really good ones and if those aren't there they'll reset and run more offense, hence the slower pace. 

I think the best thing about their offense is the multitude of ways they get shooters open. I mentioned perimeter passing/movement like old Beilein teams, but their guards also do a good job of driving into the lane, collapsing the D and kicking out to open shooters. I generally think the less athletic JMo comparison is good for Krutwig, but I think he's a much better passer out of the low post. He has a 15% assist rate which is really good for a big man and Loyola will often throw it down low to him so the D collpases and he can kick it back out to an open shooter.

Preventing them from getting 3 point looks is important, and luckily that's what this coaching staff will try to stop. I agree, not helping off perimeter players is very important. Luckily I think we have the personel to do so. If they try to drive on Z, MAAR or Matthews I think all 3 should be able to prevent Loyola's guards from getting to the rim. All 3 are good to great defenders and while Loyola's guards are good, I don't think they're good enough or athletic enough to consistently beat these 3 off the dribble.

I mentioned on O that this could be a good game for Wagner with his 3 point shooting. The issue for him will be defending Krutwig down low. I think he should be able to hold his own here for the most part, but if he can't bring in Teske like you said. I think this could actually be a big game for Teske on both sides of the ball if it does end up that way. He should definitely be able to conatin Krutwig one-on-one which will also shut down his ability to pass to open shooters out of the low post since we shouldn't have to help off. On O he'll have a 4 inch height advantage on Krutwig and 7+ on anyone else if they switch. At that point he should be able to feast on the boards with putbacks and 2nd chance opportunities for the rest of the team. Or we can just throw it down low if there's a switch and let him go to work.

The last two things I noticed about their O. One is that they run the pick and roll fairly well so that will be important to guard well. Secondly is they look to be pretty lethal in transition. All tournament they've pushed fairly often, even off missed shots, and when they push they do a great job of getting to the hoop and finding transition shooters. Our transition D is great, both at preventing opportunities and stopping the ones that happen, so continuing that is key. I feel confident we can though, especially when Teske's in and we can send 4 guys back on D when a shot goes up and we still might be able to get ORebs. Also like I said they don't force a ton of turnovers and we don't turn it over so we shouldn't give up many live ball steals and chances for transition points.

I think overall the game plan here might be similar to Purdue this year. Like you said let Krutwig get his down low but don't let the outside shooters beat you. Their outside shooting is really good (40%, 10th nationally) but still worse than Purdue's (42%, 2nd nationally) so we've faced better in that regard and won. I also am not nearly as scared of Krutwig beating us down low as I was of Haas, so I think that matches well enough for us. If we execute a Purdue game plan well, and they're not hitting every 3 they jack up no matter how well contested, I think we're in a good spot here.


March 28th, 2018 at 12:00 AM ^

in ways I can't see Krutwig repeating.  Haas basically just muscled Wagner out of the play; and even then, he did this much less against Teske (the new model Teske, that is).  Unless they call Mo's face for fouling all night (and he controls himself well), I don't think this will be a big enough factor for them.  I also agree 100% that their guards getting to the rim will be a limited thing, too.  Feeling Loyola is going to need almost everything to go right, and FSU shooting to show up for us -- really believing this game either comes down to us missing a bunch of late free throws after a disappointing shooting night, or blowing them out to where it won't matter.

Your assessments are fantastic by the way.  I've been trolling the webs for insight like this and it isn't there that I could find.  Thanks!!


March 26th, 2018 at 9:16 AM ^

This Loyola team is a dangerous team. Their center Krutwig is a really great passer out of the high post. They have lots of shooters, and they often play a switch-everything defense. They slip the ball screen often. Custer is a very crafty guard. They rotate on defense very well. 

Michigan is going to need to prevent Krutwig from making easy passes by pressuring the ball when he has it. They will also need to be disciplined and run shooters off the three point line. Winning the rebounding battle by a healthy margin would help too.


March 26th, 2018 at 9:59 AM ^

Wouldn't the best strategy be not let Krutwig pass out of the post?  I've only watched a little bit of them, but they move the ball great and get a lot of good looks from 3 it seems.  I would just say 'screw it' and stick on the perimeter with your guys and let Krutwig drive the offense with post-up baskets.  Don't leave anyone open to pass to.


March 26th, 2018 at 9:34 AM ^

This game is going to be won or lost by what happens when Loyola goes small. Krutwig doesn't have the stamina to play that much even if he is playing well and you can't have Teske out their trying to guard a 6'6 guy on the perimeter so that means either Mo has to prove he can guard on the perimeter, or more likely we will see more of Livers at the 5 and have it go better than it did against Florida State.

Loyola is comfortable playing a game without a traditional 5, so either we have to be too or force them out of it by getting all of the rebounds.


March 26th, 2018 at 9:40 AM ^

I wonder how Beilein will adjust to Loyola's small line up when Krutwig is on the bench.   Although Wagner is fairly quick for someone 6'11", he likely won't be able to stay with someone 6'5".  And although Mo is decent down on the block, it's not his forte (nor Michigan's).   


March 26th, 2018 at 10:22 AM ^

There was a period against FSU when Livers and Robinson were the 4/5. I feel like we will see that again.

This may be overly optimisic on my end but I feel like when Aundre Jackson, Loyola's backup 5 at 6'6, is on the court, we can survive with Teske/Moe out there. He's 6'6 but from what I can tell he plays like a 4/5 in a 2/3 body. He can shoot from the oustide a bit (37% on 20 makes), but his makes there are all assisted. 63% of his shots this year are at the rim and 67% of them assisted.

He doesn't seem like an overly quick guy and he's not going to take you from the perimeter and shoot or drive. He mostly is used to post up and screen and roll. If that's who he is, I think you can play Teske/Moe out there as the 5, have them play Jackson like they would Krutwig without too much consequence, and reap the rewards on O and the boards.

Now if I'm wrong about this (very possible) or they go small without Jackson, this changes. But I'd like to see it attempted at least.


March 26th, 2018 at 5:34 PM ^

Yeah it's hard for me to really tell. The only game I can find full game video of is their win @ Florida where Jackson had his best game of the year. 23 points on 7/9 shooting, 3/3 from 3. He obviously hit all his outside shots, one was curling off a screen but the other two were just straight catch and shoot. He did have 2 nice drives to the hoop as well, but a lot of his offense came from posting up smaller guys or rolling to the hoop in the P&R.

From that it seems like he's quicker than I initially thought and a worse matchup for our bigs. That being said he's hit 20 3's all year so 3-3 vs Florida is misleading. Since that game, the 9th of the season, Jackson has hit 7 3's (7/34 total so 21% shooting). He hit 13 3's in his first 9 games and his hit 7 since, with only one game with multiple 3's and he's 1/4 in the tournament. 

He's had 67% of his shots at the rim assisted which is about the same as Robert Williams from A&M (68%) or Teske (66%). It's also a lot more than a guy like Krutwig (60%) or Moe (61%) who are more likely to post up and create themselves. He also only hass 55 non-rim 2 point shots and he hits those at a 40% clip. Without seeing film it's hard to know whether his shots at the rim coming from drives off of shot fakes, cuts to the basket, easy finishes from guards off they've penetrated, rolls in the P&R or quick scores off of post feeds.

Regardless I think (key word think) his struggles shooting away from the rim (especially from 3 since the Florida game) still make him a candidate for a Teske/Moe assignment. If he does try to get his points as a roll man or back to the basket guy Moe/Teske should be have a big size advantage there and be fine. He doesn't seem to have a mid range game at all so if he's more of a perimeter guy you can let Teske/Moe sag off him and either give a 21% 3 point shooter some looks and force him to beat you there or let him drive into a well positioned Moe/Teske who have 5+ inches on him. 

Once again, as I've said many times, I could be very wrong here especially because I haven't seen much of him in action minus a few highlights and the 2.5 Loyola games I've seen this tournament. Putting Teske/Moe on him is something I think would be interesting but in reality we probably won't see when they go small.


March 27th, 2018 at 8:35 AM ^

In the little bit I was able to catch from his highlight packages in the tournement, seems like he got a lot/most of his baskets off pick-and roll.  Man, this team really does remind me of an older Jordan Morgan led Beilein team.  Great ball movement, passing, 4 out offense, non-athletic 5 that finishes at the rim assisted with a high clip.  They're really gonna have to work on that pick and roll D this week, as that seems like how the Jackson scores and he's gonna be like 50%ish of the minutes at the 5.


March 26th, 2018 at 10:28 AM ^

Only way I see a loss is if we have a terrible shooting night while Loyola manages +50% from three. We should have a huge advantage in the turnover department, and it looks like rebounding should strongly favor us as well. This is looking like a matchup where Michigan should have an additional 10-15 possessions over Loyola.

Swayze Howell Sheen

March 26th, 2018 at 12:02 PM ^

You can't get a better match up than an #11 seed -- no matter how well they've played -- in a final four game.

A lot of people say they're similar to us but the TO rate seems to be a big differentiator -- and ultimately will make this game not so close.

Good guys (that's us!) win, probably by 15-20.

Plus, when Beilein has a week to prepare...

Finally, there will be many sad old lady pics at end of game, which is the first time I'm going to be really happy seeing a 98 year old lady cry.



March 26th, 2018 at 10:32 PM ^

I also wonder about offensive rebounding and second chance points for UM.

Wagner and Matthews will be huge in the paint while MAAR gets his stroke back. Duncan just needs 6 as we all know


March 27th, 2018 at 9:17 AM ^

Agree with the opinions of most posters here so far. Loyola seems aesthetically similar to Michigan, but with the following deficiencies:

  • Much higher turnover rate
  • Worse DREB
  • Worse defensive team in general
  • A 5 that is not agile and presumably cannot guard the perimeter

With styles so similar, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Loyola comes out on top other than simply having a much better percentage on similar-quality shots to us.

Of course, in watching the past few Loyola games, I am amazed by the ability of almost all of their players to get to the bucket offensively. They really move well both with and without the ball. So, if they are carving our D up with the dribble drive (unexpected, but possible), and Wagner is off from 3, we could have a game


March 28th, 2018 at 2:57 PM ^

Agreed about the keys being how many TO we are able to generate, and the ability of Mo to punish their center. this is a game where we desperately need Mo to nail 3s.

Hopefully we can capitalize on these two things, because their 3pt shooting makes me nervous, especially in a close game scenario.