Cover Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It's officially conference tournament season, as the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals kick off early Friday afternoon with the darlings of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the Loyola Chicago Ramblers, taking on the Valparaiso Crusaders.

Loyola isn't as dangerous as it was last year, but it still claimed a share of the MVC regular season title.

The Ramblers are the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament behind top-seeded Drake. The Crusaders were not as successful this season, finishing 15-17 and 9th in the MVC. However, Valpo already won a game in the first round taking down Indiana State, 77-55.

The Ramblers have to win to keep their dream of back-to-back tournament appearances alive and are currently eight-point favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook. It seems like a gimme against a team the Ramblers have beaten twice already this season, but anything can happen in March. So let's first take a look at what the experts have to say about this matchup.

Loyola vs Valparaiso Predictions

Tony's Picks

Tony likes the Ramblers to both win and cover the spread against an inferior opponent, one that they've already beaten twice this season. Tony points to Loyola's offensive game that should help them easily dispatch the Crusaders.

Sports Chat Place

The team at Sports Chat Place is fairly uncomfortable with this game given how inconsistent Loyola has looked at times this year, however, they're reluctantly going with the Ramblers to win and cover. Loyola is the better team and should take care of business as long as they don't throw up a goose egg. 

Bang the Book

Bang the Book is more confident in the Ramblers chances, taking them to win and cover the eight-point spread. With both teams playing at a slow pace, Valparaiso's terrible turnover rate will come back to bite them.

ESPN Basketball Power Index

ESPN BPI also believes in Loyola-Chicago giving them a 75.4-percent chance of moving on the semifinals of Arch Madness. 

Overall, that's all four experts picking the Ramblers to win and all three spread picks also going the way of Loyola-Chicago. 

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Ian McCafferty is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ian McCafferty also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username itmccaff. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.