Loyola-Chicago (Who be them?)

Consigliere

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#1
Here are some opinions:

ESPN:

38. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Let's remove this mid-major's name and league (Missouri Valley Conference) for a moment. Instead, let's discuss a team ranked 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency (KenPom.com) -- a broad metric that measures a team's defensive aptitude according to the competition it has faced -- and the No. 25 offense against man-to-man defense (Synergy Sports). This team also has a road win at Florida, too. And it makes 40 percent of its 3-pointers. Sound like a sleeper to you?

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CBS

34 LOYOLA-CHI.
At 28-5, is a milestone season for the Ramblers, who haven't danced since 1985. Coached by Porter Moser, this team wins a lot with defense -- and then closes the deal with four 3-point shooters who average 38 percent or better.

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Bleacher Report

48. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

  1. Record: 28-5, 15-3 in Missouri Valley
    How They Got Here: The Ramblers might be the hottest team in the country. They have won 10 in a row and 17 of the past 18 games. If they had fallen short in the MVC tournament, it would have been a tough at-large call for the selection committee to make. Instead, Loyola-Chicago took care of business and will now be a tough out in the NCAA tournament.
    Reason to Believe: Loyola-Chicago is one of the best shooting teams. Led by junior Clayton Custer, the Ramblers make 39.8 percent of their three-point attempts and 56.8 percent of their shots from inside the arc. As a result, they have an effective field-goal percentage that ranks in the top 10 in the nation, per KenPom. They also won a road game against Florida this season, showing what they're capable of doing against a quality foe.
    Reason to Worry: Lack of size is a serious concern for this potential bracket-buster. At 6'9", freshman Cameron Krutwig is the only regular contributor taller than 6'6". Because of this, the Ramblers are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country, don't block many shots and give up a lot of points in the paint.
    March Madness Ceiling: Height problems or not, Loyola-Chicago is a serious threat to reach the Sweet 16. Five Ramblers average at least 10 points per game, and five of the six primary scorers are upperclassmen. They start not one but two veteran point guards: Custer and senior Ben Richardson, both of whom hail from Overland Park, Kansas. And they had that great win over Florida in December. Long story short, the Ramblers check all of the boxes that we look for from a Cinderella candidate.
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Actual NCAA Ranking (out of 68 Teams)

#46 (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DYCyDweVQAAyR2j.jpg:large)

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Joe Boozell

No. 6 Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, Thursday

The Hurricanes feel like a weaker 6-seed – they accomplished a lot while Bruce Brown was still healthy, but he won’t play in the tournament. The Ramblers are balanced, experienced, skilled and hungry — it’s their first tournament appearance since 1985.

Winner: Loyola-Chicago

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Andy Katz (on NCAA.com)

7. Loyola-Chicago is the best story in the region, making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 33 years.

Upset alert: Miami. The No. 6 Hurricanes take on No. 11 Loyola, a team that won at Florida earlier in the season. The Ramblers defend exceptionally well.

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Consigliere

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#2
Chicago Sun Times (random selections)

For those hopping on Loyola’s NCAA Tournament bandwagon, some things to know


The 11th–seeded Ramblers will face sixth-seeded Miami on Thursday. What a nice story it is. Most of the experts said that the only way for Loyola to get into the tournament was to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. So, after winning the regular-season title, the Ramblers did just that, beating Illinois State for the tourney championship.

No one will mistake them for Villanova or Michigan State, but they’re a tough group with tons of self-belief. Teams with older players who want to prove that they can play with anybody are dangerous in the NCAA Tournament. Five Loyola players average double figures, and the top two scorers are Clayton Custer, a redshirt junior, and Donte Ingram, a senior. Unselfishness and experience are attributes to look for when filling out your brackets.

Getting to the tournament is a huge accomplishment for Loyola. But winning a game or two is what March Madness is all about. Miami is in the way. The Hurricanes played a much tougher schedule than Loyola did and … so what? A low seed upsetting a high seed is why the country can’t concentrate for three weeks every year. Why can’t it be the Ramblers’ turn?

Chicago Tribune (random selections)

Loyola can be the team that captures America's imagination this year


Everything starts with Moser, the disciple of Rick Majerus, whose meticulousness can be seen in the way Loyola plays defense and spreads the floor on offense. Moser represents the example every struggling college coach wants his athletic director to notice, a guy whose first Loyola team went 7-23 — and struggled through two more losing seasons before a shift in direction coincided with a move to the MVC. Loyola stuck with Moser — “Just a Catholic kid from Chicago,’’ he says — and success followed.


Along the way came smart, skilled players Moser recruited from winning high school programs.

Custer, the Iowa State transfer who was named MVC player of the year, has more answers than Siri in directing Loyola’s offense. Richardson, the conference defensive player of the year, happily does the dirty work. Donte Ingram, the pride of Simeon and most valuable player of the MVC tournament, offers athleticism and leadership the Ramblers lean on through the toughest of times.

Cameron Krutwig, the 6-foot-9 center from Jacobs High in Algonquin who was MVC freshman of the year, prepared for this season by losing 35 pounds and became a passer skilled enough for the offense to go through him at the high post. Marques Townes, a New Jersey high school teammate of NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns, has made a name for himself by shooting 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc. Aundre Jackson, a junior-college transfer, is just as deadly from long range. Lucas Williamson, the freshman from Young who followed Ingram’s path from the Chicago Public League, showed uncommon maturity coming through in the clutch in St. Louis.

Five Ramblers average in double figures, led by Custer at 13.4 points per game. Moser trusts every last one of them to play an important role, big or small, for a team that makes basketball fun to watch.

SB Nation (Random Selections)

Get to know the Loyola Chicago Ramblers, who have built a true team culture

This current Rambler squad repeats the mantras of culture, teamwork, and no finish line.

Loyola led the Missouri Valley in scoring offense and scoring defense, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, assists and turnover margin. The Ramblers have five players averaging double figures in scoring and every player in their primary rotation shoots better than 44 percent from the field.

Team leader and Valley Player of the Year Clayton Custer wasn’t particularly effective in the MVC Tournament, but leads the Ramblers in scoring (13.4 points per game) and assists (4.3 per game). The 6’1 guard connects on 52 percent of his shots.

Custer’s high school teammate Ben Richardson is the team’s heart and soul. Richardson was the Valley’s Defensive Player of the Year. At 6’3 he is a defensive pest and can defend multiple positions. Moser loves to create matchup problems for other teams and he recruits players who know how to win. Custer and Richardson won two state titles at Blue Valley Northwest in Overland Park, Kansas.

Ingram, a senior from prestigious Simeon, won a state title and is one of those matchup problems Moser loves. At 6’6, he often plays power forward, where he is too quick and explosive for bigger players, and too strong for smaller opponents. The lefty averages 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and leads the Ramblers with 65 three-pointers.

Loyola watchers know about super sub Aundre Jackson. He was the Valley’s 2017 Sixth Man of the Year. After starting 14 early games (thus disqualifying him for that award this year), the 6’5 senior returned to his customary, spark-off-the-bench role and is the team’s fourth-leading scorer (10.9 points per game). He primarily plays in the post in Moser’s small lineup.

The largest (figuratively and literally) difference in this year’s squad is the 6’9, 260-pound freshman Krutwig. He gave Moser his first true center since he’s come to Loyola. While not overpowering, Krutwig is relatively nimble, a capable scorer (10.5 points per game), is adept at passing out of the post, and grabs his share of rebounds (6.3 per game). Krutwig was named to the Valley’s all-freshmen and all-newcomer teams.

The fifth player averaging double figures is Fairleigh-Dickinson transfer Marques Townes. He has a downhill game and relentlessly drives to the basket. He was named to the Valley’s all Tournament team.

This is one of the best shooting teams in the nation. They have adequate size and play spectacular (if not flashy) defense, holding the opposition to 62.2 points per game, the fifth fewest in the nation. And they don’t foul — Loyola committed the sixth-fewest fouls in the country.

Since Krutwig is Loyola’s only true big man, a team will have to beat them in the paint or somehow overcome a Rambler team that does not beat itself.
 
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#3
So basically we have no chance. Nice to know. We're the underdog lol. Also says we accomplished a lot while Brown was healthy. I think we accomplished more when he was out but that's just me.
 
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#4
6'9 is their tallest player? So, umm, just let Huell and Buka bully these guys or what?
 
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#6
we are going to win by 20. then well smack ut by 9 and take cincy by 3.
 
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#7
We are hard to figure out. When we play focused, we can beat just about anyone.

But at times this season, we’ve frustratingly lacked intensity and had the tendency to disappear during stretches.

Lykes mentioned this in a recent interview and I think we show up ready to play.
 
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#8
Not everyone thinks we're going to lose. Vegas has us as a 2.5 pt fav. CBS preview of the South region has some nice nuggets!

Bold prediction: Miami makes the Elite Eight
The raw talent and depth of this roster could carry Miami into the second weekend, maybe further. Miami showed during its late-season charge to the 3-seed in the ACC Tournament that if things click the Canes can beat anyone. Jim Larranaga's team is a little banged up almost the entire season, but it's also rounded into a deep team with lots of ways to beat you.

1. Miami/Loyola-Chicago over Tennessee. The Vols have been stellar all year, particularly not he defensive end, but this team is making its first appearance in the tournament since Cuonzo Martin led the team to the Sweet 16 in 2014. I think the Vols will get by Wright State but making it out of the weekend could be tougher than you'd expect for a 3-seed.
 
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#9
I hate to be that guy but no one can really be the least surprised if we go one and done. We don't exactly have a reputation to playing up to the moment in the tournament.
 
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#10
6'9 is their tallest player? So, umm, just let Huell and Buka bully these guys or what?
Yes in theory that'd be great. But they aren't bullies because they're tall and lanky. They have the height advantage and we will need that to get 2nd chance opportunities.
 
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#11
Not everyone thinks we're going to lose. Vegas has us as a 2.5 pt fav. CBS preview of the South region has some nice nuggets!

Bold prediction: Miami makes the Elite Eight
The raw talent and depth of this roster could carry Miami into the second weekend, maybe further. Miami showed during its late-season charge to the 3-seed in the ACC Tournament that if things click the Canes can beat anyone. Jim Larranaga's team is a little banged up almost the entire season, but it's also rounded into a deep team with lots of ways to beat you.

1. Miami/Loyola-Chicago over Tennessee. The Vols have been stellar all year, particularly not he defensive end, but this team is making its first appearance in the tournament since Cuonzo Martin led the team to the Sweet 16 in 2014. I think the Vols will get by Wright State but making it out of the weekend could be tougher than you'd expect for a 3-seed.
Elite 8?! We didn't make the elite 8 with our great teams in 2012-2013 and 2015-2016. I don't see how elite 8 is realistic with this team and with brown done for the season. I'd love if it happened but I just don't see it.
 
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#12
Elite 8?! We didn't make the elite 8 with our great teams in 2012-2013 and 2015-2016. I don't see how elite 8 is realistic with this team and with brown done for the season. I'd love if it happened but I just don't see it.
Look at the teams in our path this year versus past years. There is a lot to like THIS YEAR about our seeding and bracket. No guarantees, of course... but the opportunity is there.
 
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#13
I'd say we have about as favorable a bracket to reach the S16 as we could expect.

That said, we could easily pull one of our famous "No Mas" shticks in the first round.
 
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#14
Look at the teams in our path this year versus past years. There is a lot to like THIS YEAR about our seeding and bracket. No guarantees, of course... but the opportunity is there.
Yeah I don't feel the same that you do about the teams in our region. Or do you just mean in our half of the region?
 
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#15
Look, we can easily lose this game. There is no denying that. But out of all the 11 seeds that we could have faced, this is the best possible matchup IMO. A team that relies heavily on threes and won't be a threat at all on the offensive glass? Sign me up.
 
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#16
Look, we can easily lose this game. There is no denying that. But out of all the 11 seeds that we could have faced, this is the best possible matchup IMO. A team that relies heavily on threes and won't be a threat at all on the offensive glass? Sign me up.
Yeah but we don't defend the 3 very well and our big guys can be pretty soft. With that said we definitely have the talent to win a game or 2. But who knows what we will see out there.
 
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#17
Yeah but we don't defend the 3 very well and our big guys can be pretty soft. With that said we definitely have the talent to win a game or 2. But who knows what we will see out there.
Our big guys tend to be soft against competent bigs in the ACC. And we rank 40th in the country (4th in the ACC) in Opp 3pt percentage.
 
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#18
Yeah I don't feel the same that you do about the teams in our region. Or do you just mean in our half of the region?
I mean our path to the Elite 8. The top half of our bracket is stiff w/ Virginia, Kentucky and Zona, IMHO. I think Virginia may have a tougher path than us to the elite 8.
 
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#19
I mean our path to the Elite 8. The top half of our bracket is stiff w/ Virginia, Kentucky and Zona, IMHO. I think Virginia may have a tougher path than us to the elite 8.
Maybe. But Virginia is also better than Miami.
 
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#20
Our big guys tend to be soft against competent bigs in the ACC. And we rank 40th in the country (4th in the ACC) in Opp 3pt percentage.
Well I'm not sure how that's the case because it seems as if teams have been lighting us up from beyond the 3 pt line lately.
 
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