Can it be?
Will it seriously materialize?
Illinois vs. Loyola in the NCAA Tournament?
Basketball gods, make it so.
A good numerous college or university basketball enthusiasts definitely disapprove of the collection committee’s final decision to place No. 8 seed Loyola in the same Midwest Location bracket as No. 1 seed Illinois. So significantly for acquiring two Sweet 16 stories to rally all around, appropriate? What a buzzkill.
I see an even improved tale in a clash of the Illini and the Ramblers. For one thing, they haven’t met on the court docket due to the fact Nov. 11, 2011, in Champaign. The Illini gained 67-49 in — wait for it — Porter Moser’s really initially sport as Loyola’s mentor.
Illini centre Meyers Leonard was late for shootaround and did not get to begin but ended up top the Illini with 15 details. The guests ended up led by Walt Gibler’s 19. It was a four-position match midway by the 2nd 50 %, but, perfectly, why am I even talking about this? These Ramblers completed the period 7-23. The Illini were being bad sufficient that Bruce Weber received fired.
The place is — and just consider about it — let’s check out it again when the two groups are at the pretty tops of their games. How wildly thrilling would that be? Who would dare to pass up the heavyweight championship fight of university basketball in Illinois?
There have been much too many seasons when we did not even get two Illinois groups into the Huge Dance. We undoubtedly haven’t noticed Chicago universities get there generally. When was the final seriously significant sport concerning two “locals” like Illinois and Loyola? We really don’t even have a true college or university basketball rivalry to talk of. Male, that’s lame.
But we may possibly get Illini-Ramblers, and it is difficult to think of anything far better.
But will they get there?
Oh, yeah, Illinois and Loyola each have to win a sport to start with.
There are two issues you need to have to know about 16th-seeded Drexel, the Illini’s opening opponent. One particular, the Dragons really do not shoot lots of threes, which means they are going to have to try to rating in the tooth of a monstrous defense. A lot of luck with that, fellas. Two, their big man, James Butler — a Mr. Double-Double sort in the Colonial Athletic — is a chiseled 6-8, but 7-, 285-pound Illini middle Kofi Cockburn eats chiseled 6-8 for breakfast.
It’ll be a great deal much more overwhelming for the Ramblers from ninth-seeded Ga Tech, which is on an eight-recreation winning streak — in a weaker-than-typical ACC, but nevertheless — and has overwhelmed Florida Condition twice, the second time in the ACC title recreation. The Yellow Jackets really do not shoot the 3 very well, but — not like the groups Loyola conquer in the 2018 tournament — they’re a great passing workforce that doesn’t switch the ball over.
Loyola’s finest player is senior center Cameron Krutwig. Ga Tech’s 6-9, 235-pound Moses Wright passes from the high post like Krutwig, is terrific at driving the ball and is as prolific a rebounder as there is in the place. He is every single bit Krutwig’s equivalent and may be just plain more to tackle.
A closing 4
1. Illinois-Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16 will be an fast classic. The fourth-seeded Cowboys are — like the Illini — nuts-exciting to enjoy. Freshman guard Cade Cunningham could be the leading choose in this year’s NBA draft, but this staff throws a heck of a great deal additional at you than just Cunningham. Request Baylor, which could not prevent the Cowboys in the Large 12 tournament.
2. East leading seed Michigan will skip wounded guard Isaiah Livers, but the narrative that the Wolverines are cooked devoid of him is silly. It’s not like they’ll be actively playing four-on-5 out there. Key program, up coming man up. This is what observe is for.
3. The Significant 10 has two No. 1 seeds, No. 2s Iowa and Ohio Point out, a No. 4 in Purdue and 4 other groups — nine whole — in the subject. And the ninth is play-in staff Michigan Point out, which is generally capable of a deep operate. What a league this is.
4. If Gonzaga is going to eliminate, it’ll take place in the Round of 32. Oklahoma and Missouri are hazardous. Often they’re additional dangerous to them selves than they are to their opponents, but which is why they are seeded 8 and 9. If the Zags get previous the next spherical, who’s likely to stop them? They’ve already smoked the West’s Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds — Iowa, Kansas and Virginia — this period.