The #11 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers continued dancing on Saturday with a 78-62 win over the #9 Kansas State Wildcats to advance to the Final Four.
"Are you kidding me!"
Loyola head coach Porter Moser will return to Texas for the first time since leaving his positon as an assistant coach at Texas A&M in 1996.
Unlike the other mid-major 11 seeds that made the Final Four (particularly George Mason in 2006 and Virginia Commonwealth in 2011), this Loyola team looks particularly risky.
Don't bet against Loyola, which emerged from a regional that produced a staggering array of upsets.
"I think we left no doubts out there that we deserve to be in the Final Four", said center Cameron Krutwig.
After three close calls, this one was downright easy. On the 15 turnovers that they had, Kansas State turned those into 28 points. And to be honest with you, after Selection Sunday, we didn't say, hey, let's go to the Final Four. We've got so many unselfish guys, and we have so many weapons. When asked how she was feeling, she gave a thumbs-up that said it all. However, as the season begins to dwindle with the national championship game only about a week away, Beilien said he was glad to see his team enjoy the fruits of their labor. It was known as the "Game of Change", matching the Ramblers and their mostly black roster against an all-white Mississippi State team at the height of the civil rights movement, setting up an even more noteworthy contest three years later. Their next opponent will be the Michigan Wolverines, who have not lost a game since February 6 at Northwestern (13 straight).
Les Hunter, a member of that '63 team, said these Ramblers are capable of bringing home another title. We had no answer for them. "They work so well together". They play balanced basketball, which is fun to watch. The pride of the Missouri Valley Conference deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the nation's elite.
Finally, with the Final Four on the line, they turned in a thoroughly dominating performance.
The Ramblers took a big lead of 23 points in the first matchup of No. 11 and No. 9 seeds in a regional final.
Loyola opened the game making eight of its first 10 shots and started the second half 9-for-10.
Kansas State, typically a poor shooting team that made nine three-pointers against Kentucky, only made 6-of-25. He knocked down the free throw to complete the four-point play, stretching the lead to 44-29.
There were no doubters left in the Kansas State locker room. "It's about who is going to play better".
Not that it mattered at the end. 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. By allowing only 62 points, Loyola-Chicago extended their streak of not allowing 70 points in a game to ten games.
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers and Michigan Wolverines will square off this upcoming Saturday night at the Alamodome in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
Here are five of the greatest tournament runs in the history of the state, in no particular order.