Bracket Busters: Set plays from the Loyola Ramblers by Chris Filios
So who had the Loyola Ramblers in the Final Four? Many people thought of them as a popular upset pick in the first round, maybe even in the 2nd round, but making it all the way to San Antonio??? No way. The 2018 NCAA Tournaments has been filled with upsets and unexpected things. There was UMBC, the first 16-seed to beat a 1-seed. In fact, the whole South Region embodied “March Madness”- #16 UMBC beating #1 Virginia, #13 Buffalo beating Arizona, #7 Nevada making the Sweet 16 with an upset of Cincinnati, and #9 Kansas State and #11 Loyola making the Elite. Other unexpected runs included Florida State, Marshall, and Syracuse. However, the feel-good story of the tourney is the Loyola Ramblers. The #11-seeded Ramblers tied for the lowest seeded team ever to make it to the Final Four- joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011). It will be the first time they will be returning to college basketball’s biggest weekend since they won the National Championship back in 1963.
1963 holds a special place in the history of college basketball. While we are all certainly familiar with the great 1966 Texas Western basketball team, who started and defeated mighty Kentucky with five African-American starters and later leading to the movie Glory Road. However, it was three years earlier that Loyola played in one of the most socially significant games in the college basketball history known as “The Game of Change,” in which the Loyola pitted a black roster versus Mississippi State’s all-white roster in the championship game.
In was the first time the Ramblers had made the NCAA Tournament since 1985. Porter Moser, a disciple of the late Rick Majerus, and his team won the Missouri Valley Conference, posting a 28-5 overall record heading into the tourney. Moser has built his program on culture. His “Wall of Culture” has become famous since taking the head-coaching job back in 2011.
It encompasses all the little details that they deem important to the success of the program. By embracing these values, the Ramblers have consistently improved and are now two wins away from the school’s 2nd national championship. Will the Ramblers find enough magic for a couple more wind or will their Cinderella run come to an end?