In dominating fashion, Loyola-Chicago advanced to the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA Tournament Saturday night with a 78-62 win over Kansas State.
Well, Cinderella is going to keep dancing a little bit longer in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers not only continued their magical run to the Final Four, but they did it in dominating fashion as the 11 seed in the South region knocked off Kansas State (nine seed), 78-62. It is the school’s first Final Four appearance since they won the title back in 1963.
Right out of the gate, the Missouri Valley Champions took it to the Wildcats as they led 15-5 in the first 5:32 of the game as it seemed the team couldn’t miss from beyond the arc. That trend would continue throughout the night as Loyola-Chicago led by 23 points midway through the second half and they did not look back.
Every night we have talked about Porter Moser’s squad during the NCAA Tournament, a new hero seems to emerge and that is what’s great about the balance this team has. Last night, it was senior guard Ben Richardson who ended up having a career night to remember.
Richardson came into the Elite Eight having only made one of his nine attempted trifectas in the first three rounds. Those games can be forgotten now after he was 6-for-7 from downtown and had a career-high 23 points. This is coming from a player who only made 32 three-pointers for the entire year.
While Loyola-Chicago doesn’t have much size in their starting lineup outside of freshman Cameron Krutwig, their four guards do a great job of getting to the basket and kicking it out to an open man on the perimeter. Of course, it also helps when your team shoots 39.7 percent from beyond the arc for the season.
After winning the first three games by a combined four points, the Ramblers made sure there was no doubt in this one against a Kansas State team that struggled offensively without it’s leading scorer, Dean Wade (34.8 percent from the floor). By allowing only 62 points, Loyola-Chicago extended their streak of not allowing 70 points in a game to ten games.
When you look at this game closely, the margin of victory could have been much worse if Loyola-Chicago had taken better care of the basketball. On the 15 turnovers that they had, Kansas State turned those into 28 points.
In a year where college basketball has been unpredictable, it is only fitting that Loyola-Chicago will be in San Antonio for next weekend’s Final Four. They play balanced basketball, which is fun to watch. Plus, it has been great to see the joy that Sister Jean has when she watches the team play.
Will the clock strike midnight on Loyola-Chicago at the Final Four? Their next opponent will be the Michigan Wolverines, who have not lost a game since February 6 at Northwestern (13 straight).
Michigan got off to a slow start against Florida State Saturday night, but their defense helped them secure a 58-54 win over the Seminoles. Despite Moritz Wagner not making a single three-pointer, the Wolverines held Florida State to 32 percent from the floor and forced 15 turnovers. Plus, Charles Matthews stepped up on offense with a game-high 17 points.
It will be a tall order for the Ramblers to take down the Wolverines, especially when Michigan can still win games when they shoot 4-for-22 from beyond the arc. Both of these teams have great defenses, but we will get to a breakdown of this game later in the week.
Regardless of what happens next weekend, UMBC and Loyola (Chicago) have shown the world that anything can happen in March Madness. Loyola showed in the regular season with their win over Florida that they were no fluke. Now, the whole nation has figured that out and is enjoying every minute of it.