Eighth Seed Loyola-Chicago is still alive in the NCAA tournament. The magic of Sister Jean continues.
The Loyola Chicago Ramblers (26-4) ended the season on a six-game winning streak to secure only the 8th seed in the NCAA Tournament. Once again, the Ramblers had to prove their critics wrong as they took on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Ramblers relegated to the NIT in 2019 and missed the tournament entirely in the 2020 season regardless of the global pandemic.
The Ramblers started off slow in the second half due to early turnovers. However, Sister Jean was able to witness the Ramblers regain the lead midway through the half. Loyola Chicago never looked back as they out-rebound Georgia Tech 30-17 as the Yellow Jackets played without Moses Wright. The Ramblers went on to win the game 71-60.
TALL TASK AGAINST ILLINOIS
Even with the big win against Georgia Tech, the Ramblers had to face the Big 10 championships in the Round of 32. Some of Loyola’s luck or wisdom or whatever you want to call it came from Sister Jean who was a big headline in the team’s Final Four run in 2018.
Before going to the luxury suite where she would watch the rest of the game. She was sitting in her maroon and gold scarf. She also delivered a pregame player to encourage the players as they were heavy underdogs against a talented Illinois Fighting Illini squad.
In the prayer, she said,” As we play the Fighting Illini, we ask for special help to overcome this team and a great win.” She added,” We hope to score early and make our opponents nervous. We have a great opportunity to convert rebounds as the team makes about 50 percent of their layups and 30 percent of its three points. Our defense can take care of that.”
The prayer must have worked as the Ramblers looked like they were the one seed in this matchup. Only two players on the Illinois squad had over double-digits in points. Kofi Cockburn had a good game going up against Cameron Krutwig who had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Adam Miller was the other Illinois player in double figures with 10 points. Ayo Dosumu who is a projected first-round pick had 9 points and 6 turnovers on 4-10 shooting from the field.
The Ramblers made the nation’s leading defensive team look like they played 5 on 4 basketball as Loyola led from the first half to the end of the game. Illinois committed 17 turnovers and scored 23 points under their season average.
Lucas Williamson and Marquise Kennedy added 14 points in a big upset as they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. For a team that dealt with a few injuries throughout the year, the team can make some noise just like in 2018 with Sister Jean’s presence. Since that run, Krutwig is only one out of four players in Missouri Valley Conference history to put up 1500 points, 800 rebounds, and 300 assists.
Their opponents on Saturday are the 12th seed Oregon State Beavers who can be viewed as another Cinderella team as they pulled two upsets against Oklahoma State and Tennessee. This should be an interesting matchup as both teams continue to prove their doubters wrong. Can the Beavers continue pulling off upsets or will Sister Jean and the Ramblers continue where they left off?