The Loyola of Chicago Ramblers arrived at the Big Dance with only a bit of attention. Four victories later, they’re guaranteed to leave March Madness as a legendary team.
Thanks to a 78-62 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats, the Ramblers earned a spot in the Final Four and secured their place in men’s college basketball history.
Loyola, the No. 11 seed in the South Regional, joined 1985-86 LSU, 2005-06 George Mason and 2010-11 VCU as the lowest seed to ever reach the national semifinals. That alone is reason enough for the Ramblers to be remembered in the annals of the NCAA tournament.
But because of how they kept surviving and advancing, Loyola will be one of the most memorable Cinderella stories.
On their way to the Elite Eight, the Ramblers edged sixth-seeded Miami just before the buzzer. They clipped No. 3 seed Tennessee when a jumper rattled home in the closing seconds. They buried No. 7 seed Nevada with a late three.
Based on margin of victory, this unexpected run is unparalleled in March Madness history.
Only 1980-81 Saint Joseph’s also won its first three games by a combined four points, per ESPN Stats & Info. But in the Elite Eight, that squad lost by 32 points. Loyola, on the other hand—with a trip to San Antonio at stake—led for the final 36 minutes of Saturday’s game.
The Ramblers left no doubt they deserved a spot in the Final Four.
One noteworthy point the coming years will determine is whether a specific player will be immortalized. That seems improbable, since Donte Ingram, Clayton Custer and Marques Townes all hit clutch shots and no player has consistently taken over games a la Stephen Curry for 2007-08 Davidson.
Granted, Sister Jean—the 98-year-old team chaplain whose likeness was featured on a collectible bobblehead—could fill that role.
source: bleacherreport.com by DAVID KENYON