Loyola Chicago carried out 101-year-old superfan Sister Jean’s plans to a T on Sunday, shifting to the Candy 16 with a 71 to 58 win over Illinois, the primary No. 1 seed bounced from this yr’s NCAA Match.
Cameron Krutwig delivered a 19-point, 12-rebound masterpiece and the quick-handed, eighth-seeded Ramblers (26-4) led wire to wire. They befuddled a strong Illinois offense to return to the second weekend three years after their final magical run to the Ultimate 4.
The Ramblers will subsequent play both Oklahoma State or Oregon State, who have been set to satisfy later Sunday.
Theirby Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the venerable group chaplain, who obtained each COVID-19 vaccination pictures and clearance to journey to Indianapolis to see what inspiration she might present in 2021.
Earlier than taking in most of this recreation from the posh suite — sitting in her wheelchair and decked out in her trademark maroon and gold scarf — Jean delivered a pregame prayer that would’ve been stripped straight from a John Wood handbook.
“As we play the Combating Illini, we ask for particular assist to beat this group and get an amazing win,” she mentioned. “We hope to attain early and make our opponents nervous. We’ve got an amazing alternative to transform rebounds as this group makes about 50% of layups and 30% of its 3 factors. Our protection can handle that.”
From her mouth to their ears.
Illinois (24-7) earned high seeding for the primary time since its personal Ultimate 4 run in 2005, however fell behind by double digits within the first half and by no means received inside putting vary. The Illini dedicated 16 turnovers and scored 23 factors fewer than their season common.
Illinois’ 7-foot second-team All-American Kofi Cockburn completed with 21 factors on 7-for-12 capturing, however labored laborious for each shot towards the pestering presence of Krutwig and Co.
And Loyola’s handsy guards, Lucas Williamson and Keith Clemons, saved first-team All-American Ayo Dosunmu from ever discovering his consolation zone. He completed with 9 factors, 11 beneath his season common.
The opposite All-American on the ground was a third-teamer, Krutwig, who seemed all-world on this one.
Posting up, pivoting, dishing when obligatory and inflicting all types of bother on protection within the paint, the 6-9 senior performed greater. He additionally had 5 assists. Krutwig was with Loyola for the final Ultimate 4 journey, and has since turn out to be one in every of solely 4 gamers in Missouri Valley Convention historical past to file 1,500 factors, 800 boards, and 300 assists.
And there is a likelihood for extra.
It is a flip of occasions that Sister Jean might see occurring. Earlier than the sport, she steered Loyola, the MVC champs who gained 25 video games this yr, might need gotten a uncooked take care of a No. 8 seeding that put it up towards a 1 so early.
There was just one solution to take care of that, and to anybody exterior of of Champaign — or now holding a freshly obliterated bracket — it is laborious to argue this Loyola group is not the breath of contemporary air this tournament-in-a-bubble sorely wanted.
Certain, there have been upsets, some drama and little groups doing large issues.
However there’s no one fairly like Sister Jean to place the entire thing in perspective. The Ramblers and March Insanity — it is a laborious behavior to interrupt.