The Loyola Ramblers were never expected to make it past the first round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament. But, some people had faith in the Ramblers. According to NCAA, only 1,584 brackets had Loyola winning The 2018 National Championship.
“I had faith in my city,” Rolling Meadows Freshman Olivia De Luca said as she explains why she picked Loyola to win the NCAA tournament. “I saw how they improved throughout the season, so I knew they would do really good.”
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Ramblers faced sixth seed Miami. Going into the game, Miami had only nine losses compared to the Ramblers five. Even though Miami had more losses, they were the better team going into the game, because they had a tougher schedule than Loyola.
In the game, the leading scorer for Loyola was a Redshirt Junior, Clayton Custer, who had 14 points, four assists and one rebound. Custer helped the Ramblers defeat the Hurricanes 64-62.
With that win, the Ramblers moved onto the second round to play third seed Tennessee. Coming into the second round, Tennessee was expected to blowout the Ramblers. But that didn’t happen because the Ramblers found a way to win.
In the game, Senior Aundre Jackson was the leading scorer for the Ramblers, with 16 points, one assist, and four rebounds. Custer helped the team by scoring with 3.6 seconds left in the game. With that almost buzzer beater win, the Ramblers defeated Tennessee 63-62.
Once again, the Ramblers moved onto the next round. In the Sweet Sixteen, the Ramblers faced seventh seed Nevada. By then, the Ramblers got the nickname of “Comeback Kings.” Loyola lived up to the name by upsetting Nevada 69-68.
In the Sweet Sixteen game, the leading scorer for Loyola was Junior, Marques Townes. Townes had 18 points, five assists, and 4 rebounds. They officially sealed the win when Townes scored a 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds to go.
With a win in the Sweet Sixteen, the Ramblers got to move on to the Elite Eight. Loyola faced off with ninth seed Kansas State, who was a “Cinderella” team, just like them.
Unlike their previous wins, Loyola completely dominated Kansas State over the whole game. By the end of the first half, the Ramblers were up by 12 and then took over the second half by scoring 42 points, which made the final score 78-62.
With a win against Kansas State, Loyola officially punched their ticket into the Final Four. Loyola went up against their toughest opponent yet, the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan was on a 13 game winning streak, which means they hadn’t lost a game in over a month.
According to ESPN, only .1 percent of brackets predicted that Loyola and Michigan would face off in the Final Four. With this unpredictable matchup came unpredictable scores. By the end of the first half, Loyola was winning by seven, making the score 29-22.
Unfortunately, Loyola couldn’t hold onto the lead. Michigan outscored Loyola in the second half 47-28 to make the final score 69-57. Loyola had 17 turnovers compared to Michigan’s 11.
However, Loyola was better than Michigan in other ways. The Ramblers were 12-14 at the free-throw line and Michigan was 12-18. Loyola’s field goal percentage was 43.1 percent and Michigan’s was 42.4. Even though Michigan beat Loyola, The Ramblers overall had a successful season with a record of 32-6, which is their best record in school history.