DALLAS — Former Tennessee basketball star Dane Bradshaw was just as excited as any of the Vols fans Thursday afternoon, excited to see his alma mater advance.
But Bradshaw, who works as an SEC Network analyst, has some thoughts and information to share on Tennessee’s next opponent in the NCAA Tournament South Regional.
“A word of caution before celebrating that all you have to do is beat an 11 seed,” Bradshaw told SEC Country. “As Miami learned today, there’s a reason a lot of people thought this was the most likely double-digit seed to win.
“Loyola Chicago won at Florida, they’ve beaten Miami, so there won’t be an intimidation factor.”
What there will be in the Vols’ game with the Ramblers at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, is plenty of defense and some interesting matchups.
Upset at Florida
Bradshaw, who starred at Tennessee from 2003-07, was on the call for the SEC Network earlier this season in Gainesville when Loyola Chicago played the Gators.
The Ramblers – a 16 1/2-point underdog that night — beat then-No. 5 Florida 65-59, on Dec. 6.
“When you think about how athletic Florida’s guards are, and how perimeter-oriented they are, and Loyola-Chicago handled them just fine,” Bradshaw said. “They’re not going to do anything to get on SportsCenter, other than hit game-winners, but they are athletic enough, they aren’t terribly undersized, they are well-built.”
Loyola Chicago (29-5) upset No. 6-seed Miami on Thursday with a buzzer-beating shot, 64-62, and are a 6-point underdog to Tennessee.
The Ramblers entered the game with the Hurricanes ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 62.2 points per game.
Bradshaw, known during his career as a high IQ player who embodied the “point forward” and “glue guy” roles, said Loyola Chicago presents some difficult matchups.
“They’ve got a big kid in Cameron Krutwig who’s like a point-center,” Bradshaw said of the 6-foot-9, 260-pounder. “He’s a big, burly kid, and they can operate a lot of their offense out of the high post. He could present some problems.”
Krutwig was the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and shot 64.7 percent the last 16 games leading up to the NCAA Tournament.
“Tennessee has been known for really solid defense all year long, and they’ll need it,” Bradshaw said, “because Loyola will run some good sets and make you defend. Their coach (Porter Moser) is a Rick Majerus disciple.”
As such, Bradshaw explained, Moser recruits to land “mismatch players” that give opponents problems.
“Donte Ingram, the guy that hit the game-winning shot against Miami, was a preseason first-team pick and he led their (Missouri Valley) conference in 3-point percentage (45.8),” Bradshaw said. “He’s a senior, and at 6-foot-6, he’s their mismatch.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s their matchup for (Admiral) Schofield, who has been Tennessee’s mismatch guy.”
Ingram was the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player, averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds in three games.
Loyola Chicago had only 10 turnovers in its win against Miami while forcing the Hurricanes into 16 turnovers.
“Clayton Custer is their coach on the floor and their high IQ guy, their coach loves him,” Bradshaw said. “So they matchup well against Tennessee in the post, then you’ve got Ingram, and then Custer is a really consistent point guard.
“Then they’ve also got Aundre Jackson, he was last year’s Sixth Man of the Year in their league, and he’s another big mismatch guy at 6-5, 230. He was 10-of-12 shooting against Florida, and at that time he was shooting like 70 percent form the field. He’s an extremely efficiency finisher around the rim.”
Bradshaw said he’s confident Tennessee coach Rick Barnes and his staff will put together a strong game plan.
“Even though they have some mismatch guys, I feel like Tennessee is more balanced,” Bradshaw said. “When I saw Florida play Loyola Chicago, they couldn’t win a low-scoring game.
“But Tennessee can beat you in the 60s or the 90s, and the fact Tennessee has multiple weapons, I give them the edge.”
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