Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Michigan Basketball: Get To Know Loyola

Two Johnson County natives help lead Loyola-Chicago to Elite 8 March Madness: 9-seeds Kansas State, Florida State advance to Elite Eight
Freda Brock | 30 March, 2018, 00:05

When the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers were invited to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 33 years - and then made it all the way to the Elite Eight - it left brackets shattered. Those other three all lost in the national semifinals. Sign up for RG Newsletters and get the news delivered directly to your inbox. MI coach John Beilein is known for running one of the most intricate offenses in college basketball, but the Ramblers have made agility, speed and "offensive charisma" their calling card in the tournament.

John Beilein is in the Final Four for the second time in five years, and may be the best coach in the country without a national championship. "When you have guys like that who are truly your brothers, anything's possible". And, if Charles Barkley gets his wish, Sister Jean will be hanging out with the Round Mound of Rebound at the Final Four, but not on the basketball court - her condition for agreeing to meet with him. In fairness, oddsmakers favored No. 2 Duke over Kansas in the Midwest final, so the Jayhawks' 85-81 win could be viewed as something of an upset, but certainly not enough to qualify as true Madness.

They'll face MI in the national semifinals, and a win would put them in the championship game for the first time since the 1963 team won the title in a landmark tournament run for racial equity. A David slaying every Goliath in its tournament path as a No. 11 seed. After the win Saturday, Les Hunter, a member of the 1963 team, said the Ramblers are capable of bringing home another championship.

Unfortunately for Loyola, what makes them special as a basketball team is at the core of a very talented Michigan Wolverine team. For all that the Ramblers seem to have stepped out of a Wayback machine in the '50s, they all can shoot, pressure the ball and play defense.

Loyola: The Ramblers are headed to San Antonio next Saturday to meet the victor of the West Regional final between Florida State and MI. This year's Wolverines were a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team in early February, after a loss at Northwestern dropped them to 8-5 in the conference.

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I threw out a Twitter poll to the public last night about who they thought would win the whole thing. "And I would even give more advice now in that when we went in '09, it blew us away, right, so I knew to expect that".

It has been 10 years since Kansas' most recent national title, and sometimes it feels like Mario Chalmers' 3-pointer never happened. They blew a 22-point lead in the Round of 32. Three of those four included game-winners in the closing seconds. The key to all this success?

"When people say, 'Why do you do this?" The Ramblers continued to dance and moved into the Sweet 16 for a third-round match up against No. 7 seed Nevada. If Grayson Allen's shot at the buzzer in regulation hadn't gone in and out - twice - this might have marked No. 6.

Malik Newman's coming-out party has helped a Kansas team that won the Big 12 for a 14th consecutive time become even better. So boom, not only is Sister Jean such a likable cute old lady, but she is also way smarter than any of us ever will be.

"It's because we all believe in each other", said Clayton Custer, who had seven points and five assists.

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