This is just the third time Loyola Chicago has been in the NCAA tournament since 1985.

It seems like a lot more. Loyola Chicago quickly became a recognizable brand in March Madness. It had an amazing Final Four run in 2018 and then beat No. 1 seed Illinois to go to the Sweet Sixteen last year. That makes the Ramblers memorable.

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They’re back, and in the first game on Friday as the first round continues. Here are the picks for Friday’s first-round games, in chronological order, with the odds from BetMGM:

Loyola Chicago (-1.5) over Ohio State

Ohio State was not great late in the season. The Buckeyes lost four of five to end their season and each loss was bad in its own way: Maryland, Nebraska at home, Michigan at home, Penn State to start the Big Ten tournament. Loyola Chicago is a good team. They’re No. 24 in KenPom’s rankings. If you think the Ramblers’ metrics are a fluke, you’ve probably also lost a lot of money on them in tournaments past.

Loyola Chicago guard Braden Norris (4) helped his team to a Missouri Valley Conference tournament title that got the Ramblers the auto bid to March Madness. (Photo by Keith Gillett / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

Jacksonville State (+15.5) over Auburn

I picked Auburn to win it all in our Yahoo Bracket Now show, and I do believe in the Tigers. But Jacksonville State can shoot 3’s and that could get them a cover.

Montana State (+15.5) over Texas Tech

Another 14 seed catching a lot of points. I like Texas Tech, and I worry there will be a turnover flurry for a Montana State team that’s not too careful with the ball. But Montana State isn’t a terrible team and this is a lot of points.

Purdue (-15.5) over Yale

Yale has no size, which is a problem. The Bulldogs lost by 36 to Seton Hall, 22 to Auburn and 27 to St. Mary’s, and those are the only three top-50 KenPom teams they faced. Purdue might not be great on defense, but it can score enough to cover a big spread.

Delaware (+16.5) over Villanova

Villanova will play slow, which will make it tough for the Wildcats to cover a big number. Delaware is a good shooting team. They can hit enough baskets to cover.

USC (-2.5) over Miami

It’s tough to take the Trojans because they weren’t great late in the season. Their only late-season losses were to UCLA and Arizona, which is to be expected, but most of their wins were close and unimpressive. Miami is a mediocre team that doesn’t defend well, so the Hurricanes might not be the best team to take advantage of USC’s mini-slump. This is what you get in a lot of 7/10 games; two flawed teams that are trying to recapture what got them in the tourney in the first place.

Alabama (-4.5) over Notre Dame

The Crimson Tide is one of the most unpredictable teams in the country. Their resume is a lot of good wins and a lot of bad losses. Let’s hope good Alabama shows up against the Irish.

Virginia Tech (+1.5) over Texas

Maybe I’m being too harsh on Texas for not living up to preseason expectations. It’s not like the Longhorns were bad. But they were disappointing and if it was going to come together for them, it would have happened by now. It did happen for Virginia Tech, who won the ACC tournament but was improving before that. The Hokies won 13 of 15. They are experienced and can shoot it well from behind the 3-point line. Virginia Tech might win more than one game in this tournament.

Chattanooga (+8.5) over Illinois

Illinois went 5-4 in its last nine games. The Angieli do have dominant big man Kofi Cockburn, but Chattanooga has 6-9, 250-pound Silvio De Sousa, a former top recruit who went to Kansas and transferred, to match up. Not many mid-majors have a big like that. Chattanooga, which got into the tournament on a phenomenal overtime 3-pointer at the buzzer, can shoot it well enough to pull off an upset.

Cal State Fullerton (+18.5) over Duke

Perhaps Duke, which has failed to cover in each of its past four games, is ready to blast a team that can’t match its talent. Cal State Fullerton certainly isn’t on the same level as Duke, which will have as many as four first-round picks in the next NBA draft. I just don’t like what I’m seeing out of Duke lately.

LSU (-4.5) over Iowa State

This is a bad first-round game. LSU started 15-1 and then went 7-10 the rest of the way. Iowa State was a surprising 12-0 to start the season and then went 8-12. It has been a long time since either team looked like it belonged in the Big Dance. On top of LSU’s struggles, the Tigers just fired coach Will Wade amid controversy. About the only bankable thing in this game is LSU’s defense, which forces a ton of turnovers. That’s not good for Iowa State, which turns it over way too often.

Arizona (-21.5) over Wright State

Wright State isn’t a bad No. 16 seed, but Arizona plays fast and has had a great season. The Wildcats should win easily, it’s just a matter of how much they keep the pressure on after the outcome has been decided.

UAB (+8.5) over Houston

It’s hard to go against Houston, which is No. 4 in KenPom’s rankings. This might be the last time you see a top-four KenPom team with a No. 5 seed. The Cougars are really well coached, and they crush teams on the offensive glass. UAB is a pretty good team though, one that had the ninth-best 3-point shooting percentage in the nation. That’ll be enough for them to barely cover.

Davidson (-1.5) over Michigan State

The Spartans were on a 2-7 stretch before the regular-season finale. Maybe a good showing at the Big Ten tournament is a sign that Michigan State is ready for another March run. But I’ll trust Davidson, which is great on offense, has the size to hang with Michigan State and went 26-4 after a rough 1-2 start to this season.

Colgate (+7.5) over Wisconsin

The Badgers have had a surprising season, but it ended with losses to Nebraska in the regular-season finale and to Michigan State in their Big Ten tournament opener. Johnny Davis hurt his ankle against Nebraska and then shot 3-of-19 against the Spartans. Maybe he’s not fully healthy. Meanwhile, Colgate is one of two teams to shoot better than 40 percent from 3 this season (South Dakota State is the other) and went 19-1 after a 4-10 start this season. Colgate also won at Syracuse by 15 this season. This won’t be an easy win for Wisconsin, if it wins at all.

TCU (+1.5) over Seton Hall

Seton Hall was a darling early this season, but it has been a while since it’s beaten a good team. Meanwhile, TCU beat Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas late in the season. TCU should be able to get a lot of second chances from offensive rebounds and win what should be a low-scoring game (the total is 130.5, and the under is the right play there).

First Four: 2-2

First round to date: 5-11

Tournament to date: 7-13

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