Saturday’s first game saw Loyola-Chicago complete the remarkable trek to San Antonio. After winning three games by a total of four points, Loyola handled Kansas State 78-62. The Ramblers made 9 of their first 10 shots after halftime, stretching a lead of 12 to 23. Loyola made 13 straight after the break against Nevada Thursday. A late shot by Kansas State spun out as they started to claw back. It looked like more divine intervention.
Brian Anderson says Loyola has that winning gene, but I can only assume that is a play on words with Sister Jean. I’ve been critical of that crew, but thought they did a good job Saturday. Chris Webber was solid. I even heard Lisa Byington address Brian Anderson by his first name at times. Head coach Porter Moser has gone under the radar. How many people even know his name? This guy is living in Sister Jean’s shadow. The team is confident. Their quick passing makes me think this is what ball movement used to be like.
I can see why Sister Jean says they remind her of Loyola’s 1963 championship team. As Kentucky struggled Thursday, I started to think that Loyola could beat them. Once Kansas State advanced, I was all in on the Ramblers taking out K-State. Even after Loyola made the Sweet 16, ESPN said they had about a 1% chance of winning it all. Considering the Nevada game being basically a toss-up, that seemed low. Early this morning I saw their latest odds at 12-1. Michigan then took out Florida State in an ugly game. Leonard Hamilton’s postgame interview was also ugly, and his coaching wasn’t pretty either. FSU inexplicably decided not to foul down 58-54 with about 10 seconds remaining. The best explanation anybody can come up with is the spread was 4, or 4.5 in some places.
Villanova fell behind 9-1 against Texas Tech but quickly bounced back and went to halftime up 13. The Wildcats won by 12. Villanova has been consistent throughout the tournament. They covered all four games.
The Duke-Kansas game concluded this weekend’s action. It lived up to expectations. Kansas hit a late three to force overtime, delaying 60 Minutes and their Stormy Daniels interview. Grayson Allen nearly ended it in regulation for Duke, but his bank shot did not drop. Malik Newman had 32 points for Kansas, including all of the team’s 13 points in overtime. Kansas won 85-81. The Jayhawks are headed back to San Antonio. Kansas won it all in 2008. The Alamodome also hosted that Final Four.
It will be Loyola-Chicago against Michigan on Saturday night. Villanova will meet Kansas in game two. The winners will play for a championship on Monday. I will be forced to find something else that can give my life meaning after that.