The Latest on the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):
Players from the 1963 Loyola-Chicago championship team are back for the Ramblers’ Elite Eight matchup against Kansas State, and this time they’re sitting closer to their team.
For Loyola’s Sweet 16 win over Nevada on Thursday night, Jerry Harkness, the captain of the ’63 team, and three of his teammates had front-row seats across the court from the Ramblers.
For Saturday night’s South Regional final, the Ramblers’ elder statesmen are sitting immediately behind the Loyola bench.
The 1963 team won Loyola’s only national championship. The Ramblers haven’t made it back to another Final Four.
The ’63 team has joined Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, Loyola’s 98-year-old team chaplain, as famous supporters of the 11th-seeded Ramblers’ surprise march through the tournament.
Loyola has taken an early lead over K-State, 25-19 with less than seven minutes in the first half.
___ Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta.
Loyola-Chicago could join the great underdog programs to make the Final Four in the past 10 years.
Eleventh-seeded Loyola faces No. 9 seed Kansas State in the South Region final in Atlanta on Saturday.
Loyola is the Missouri Valley Conference champion. Schools from non-power conferences don’t often get this far. Last season, Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference made the Final Four, though the Zags shed the Cinderella label long ago.
Wichita State of the Missouri Valley made it in 2013. In 2011, Butler of the Horizon League and Virginia Commonwealth of the Colonial Athletic Association got there. Butler also played in the Final Four in 2010, losing a close championship game to Duke in its own city of Indianapolis.
In the other regional final Saturday, third-seeded Michigan plays ninth-seeded Florida State in the West Region in Los Angeles.
Time to punch the first two tickets to the Final Four. First up, a no. 9 seed or an 11.
Seems appropriate for this NCAA Tournament, where upsets have dominated especially in the South and West.
Ninth seeded Kansas State is a slight betting favorite over No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago in the South regional final in Atlanta. The second game Saturday night is in Los Angeles, where No. 3 seed Michigan plays No. 9 seed Florida State.
One of those four teams will eventually play for the national championship in San Antonio. Quite a feat considering three of those teams faced at least some bubble uncertainty in the final month of the regular season.
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