Excitement builds on Loyola Chicago campus ahead of Final Four game

Well....unless you are these two teams.

"It's wonderful because what it's doing is just highlighting a lot of the universal values that we all share that sometimes get buried underneath all the other coverage", Father Hagan said about Sister Jean being in the spotlight.

Hicks plays for Basket Esch in the top pro league in Luxembourg, and he is one of two Americans on the team. Let's break down how MI got here. They aren't a basketball school, and certainly don't have a large enrollment, with just 16,000 students compared to Michigan's 45,000, and their biggest fan is a 98-year-old nun, who picked the team to lose in the Sweet Sixteen in her bracket. The Wolverines avoided playing North Carolina, Xavier, and Gonzaga.

This Final Four has a full cast of characters-you have your Cinderella story in the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago, led by the will of Sister Jean and Porter Moser. Well, by pulling off some upsets and by not playing the likes of Virginia, Arizona, or Kentucky, who were all in their region.

Loyola-Chicago enters on a national-best 14-game winning streak, last beaten 69-67 at Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley on January 31. Either player can take over a game at key junctures and both have thrived in high-pressure situations. Should be an easy win right? He missed both shots, and Loyola-Chicago had their chance.

This March has been particularly mad: The University of Kansas was slept on, even though they won the Big 12 for the 14th consecutive time and knocked off Coach Mike Kryzewski and the Duke Blue Devils along the way.

Being at the Final Four matters, especially if your team is seeded No. 11.

The reason her pre-game prayers with the Ramblers double as scouting reports is because she studies statistics - on team websites but also the RPI and BPI.

Under is 8-1 in Ramblers last 9 overall. Although I love Sister Jean, she shouldn't say that God favors LUC. They have turned it over 51 times in four tourney games, allowing 68 points off those turnovers. The Loyola coach gave Robinson his first job as an assistant coach at Arkansas-Little Rock, Robinson's alma mater, in 2000. This was more subtle, thanks to a game and its outcome that has been largely overshadowed in part because a movie.

Loyola-Chicago center Cameron Krutwig is averaging 10.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.

The team is shooting just above 40 percent from behind the arc this season. Polished guards Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson control the flow.

-Loyola might not have a player that can guard Moe Wagner. Donte averages 11 PPG and 6 RBG. The first such experience for Crnokrak, who grew up in Chicago and Gary, Indiana, came during his sophomore year when the Ramblers played at Loyola of New Orelans.

"It kind of highlights maybe that yearning and longing that we all have for things that run beyond just a game and score", Father Hagan said.

-Michigan's poor free throw shooting nearly cost them against Florida State.

Get Moe going early- Moe Wagner will probably have the biggest mismatch in this game.

"I was supposed to take the shot, so I went around the corner, and Ron Barnum I think tipped the ball, but I didn't feel it, so I threw it to Les (Hunter)", Harkness remembers. "You never imagine sending your kid to college and then have to get that phone call". Though the odds are against the small, Catholic Chicago school, the odds have been against them the whole tournament, but that has not seemed to have hindered them thus far.

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. The Wolverines have won 13 straight games, second-longest streak in the country.

Michigan's defense has seen an improvement this season due to more emphasis and accountability, and outstanding perimeter play from Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

  • Julie Sanders