Column: Loyola-Chicago NCAA tournament run


By Jake Stafford, Sports managing editor

Behind all of the hype, media coverage, and Americas new ‘International Icon’, Sister Jean, lies a powerful Loyola-Chicago team making their first Final Four appearance since 1963.

The Ramblers are on a 14-game win streak with no signs of slowing down. They’ve defeated Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State in their miracle run to the Final Four where they have a date with Michigan in San Antonio.

Aside from the luck they’ve had on their side with multiple buzzer beaters in the NCAA Tournament, Loyola-Chicago is a skilled team who shouldn’t be counted out of Mondays NCAA Championship game.   

The Ramblers have multiple players who can get hot very quickly. In their first win, Donte Ingram hit the game-winner from the half court logo, in the second round, Clayton Custer’s game-winner rolled in with 3 seconds left, in the sweet sixteen, Marques Townes hit the dagger shot that put Loyola up by four points with 6.2 seconds left. The versatility of this team makes stopping them on defense a challenge for any opponent.

Teammate chemistry is another reason the Ramblers punched their ticket to San Antonio. A majority of the team has played together for years, making the on-court connections between them stronger than most teams. No connection is stronger than the one between Ben Richardson and Clayton Custer. The two guys have played together since third grade and rolled through high school with a 94-6 record and two state championships.

Being seeded #11 also helps the Ramblers continue to win. In the NCAA tournament, every team deserves respect. No game is an easy game whether it’s against a well-known school or a smaller school. Every team in the tournament is Division 1 meaning they have talent on the court. The best example of this is #16 UMBC knocking off #1 Virginia. The 11-seed in front of the Ramblers name probably makes opponents view them as weak which isn’t the case. They want to win just as bad as anyone.

Winning streaks help to boost a team more than anything. Just like George Mason in ‘06 and VCU in ‘11, when a team is hot, they play with no fear. Loyola-Chicago has no reason to be afraid of any remaining team in the tournament after beating a #6 and  #3 seeded team.

Porter Moser has also done a great job calling the plays for this team. They’re primarily an offensive based team and rely on their scoring to finish off opponents. Moser runs a strong ball screen offense to free up the hands of his guards who have shot lights out this entire tournament.  

How can Loyola-Chicago be talked about without mentioning Sister Jean? The star nun traveled with the team to the tournament and has made a big name for herself while bringing attention to the team. Personally, I’m not a fan of hers. I think all of the media coverage she’s attracting is taking away from what the Ramblers are doing on the court. I think the media should switch their view from sister jean to the Cinderella run the Ramblers are having.

To watch Loyola-Chicago square off with Michigan, tune into TBS on Saturday, March 31st at 6:09 PM.