March Madness Final Four 2018: Loyola Chicago vs. Michigan updates and analysis
98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the Loyola Ramblers chaplain, spoke to reporters ahead of the team's game against Michigan. (Reuters)
No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago takes on third-seeded Michigan on Saturday night in the first semifinal of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Ramblers are attempting to become the lowest-seeded team to reach the national championship game. Follow the game here as we update throughout the night.
Michigan’s Moe Wagner killed Loyola-Chicago’s magical run to the Final Four on Saturday night, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds as the Wolverines ran away from the Ramblers with a 69-57 win.
Wagner was monstrous down the stretch, keying a 17-2 run that helped the Wolverines erase a nine-point deficit and reach the national championship for the first time since 2013. Wagner’s dagger came with the Ramblers trailing by just five with just over three minutes remaining, when he did this:
Wagner didn’t stop running for loose balls even with his team up by eight in the final minutes, when he nearly took out CBS broadcasters Bill Raftery and Grant Hill and shared a moment with both after:
Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean was wheeled out of the arena shortly after.
Michigan will go for the title against the winner of Villanova-Kansas on Monday night.
Ramblers 20 minutes from shot at national championship
Loyola Chicago looked as though it was struggling to shed the nerves of making its first Final Four appearance on Saturday night in San Antonio. It started just 2-for-10 against Michigan, watching shot after shot miss and Wolverine after Wolverine blow by to the rim at the other end. Michigan led by eight early and looked comfortable after a 9-0 run.
Yet even after arguably their worst first half performance of the postseason, the Ramblers lead 29-22 at halftime. How? Improved shooting (center Cameron Krutwig and guard Marques Townes each have eight points), a lift from reserve Aundre Jackson (eight points) off the bench and a sloppy offensive performance so far from Michigan, which has 11 points and 11 rebounds from forward Moe Wagner but is nonetheless shooting 9-for-31 (29 percent) from the field. Loyola Chicago also got a bit of luck, including on this off-balance jumper by Townes with the shot clock winding down – which led the guard to do a Michael Jordan-esque shrug.
Loyola also got this running floater at the buzzer from guard Donte Ingram right before halftime:
That led to plenty of shout-outs to Sister Jean, who is courtside in San Antonio, on Twitter:
Loyola has certainly been in this position before; aside from overcoming a seven-point lead early in the second half of its first-round win over Miami, the Ramblers also overcame an early nine point deficit in the second round against Tennessee and a 12-point deficit within the first seven minutes in the Sweet 16 against Nevada. — Roman Stubbs
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SAN ANTONIO — In the back corner of the Michigan locker room Thursday, the 6-foot-6 Michigan guard Charles Matthews sat and heard a wavelet of questions about a leading topic of the 2018 Final Four. To the sport, it’s a subject gathering steam, that of transfers, their frequency and what should be their rights within the game.
To Matthews, it’s an ancient matter.
Repeatedly, he begged off discussing how in 2015-16, he played for Kentucky, playing 370 minutes in 36 games, averaging 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds. It had been so long ago, he said. He wasn’t interested in the rehash.
Loyola-Chicago band members cheer before Saturday’s semifinal game against Michigan. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)
Three of the 10 starters in the opening semifinal between Loyola Chicago and Michigan on Saturday could tell of a winding rehash if interested. They’re transfers, and they’re crucial to the matchup. Matthews, once ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com among recruits in 2015, and third among shooting guards, has played by far his fullest season and has led Michigan in scoring in this tournament.
His stat line for last season showed all zeros, much as the stat line did for Loyola Chicago guard Marques Townes and in 2015-16 for Loyola Chicago guard Clayton Custer. By the time Michigan had withstood Florida State in the West Region final in Los Angeles, Matthews had made his curvy trip from a potential one-and-done college player to Final Four-bound team scoring leader.
He had gone for 20, 11, 18 and 17 points in Michigan’s four NCAA tournament games, on strong shooting of 7 for 13, 5 for 12, 8 for 11 and 6 for 14, the last in a game when hardly anyone made a shot. “It was special,” Matthews said. “Last year all I used to hear in practice was, ‘Turnover, Matthews,’ ‘Turnover, Matthews.’ And, ‘Go see 212,’ that’s when I have to run up to the top of the bleachers. But I stayed with it. Coach stayed on me. He continued to believe in me, and that continued to help my confidence grow. My teammates believe in me, and I believe in them. So it’s just been a special feeling.”
For Custer, Loyola Chicago’s team leader, the trail went from Overland Park, Kan., to Iowa State, for a season with 12 game appearances, zero starts and 15 field goal attempts, three of them good. At Loyola Chicago, this Missouri Valley Conference player of the year joined high school teammate Ben Richardson, who helped lure him once he decided to depart Iowa State. For Townes, Custer’s fellow guard, it had gone from Edison, N.J., through Farleigh-Dickinson (N.J.), where Townes played two seasons and averaged 10 points after being on a high school team with Karl-Anthony Towns, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Wade Baldwin, now of the Portland Trail Blazers.
“A lot of times young people, in recruiting, they want — whether it’s a transfer or a high school kid — they want to make a splash on signing day, or announcement day,” Loyola Chicago Coach Porter Moser said. “‘Hey, I’m going to this conference, this school,’ and they think that validates them being a player with all the peripheral people. We always sell, ‘Go to a place, go to Loyola and make a splash on game day. You could have 125, 130 splashes.’ ”
The biggest one has come.
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Series history: The schools have played three times before, but not since 1969, when Loyola won, 112-100, at Chicago Stadium. Michigan won the two previous meetings.
Fast facts: Loyola’s 14-game winning streak is the longest of the Final Four teams … The Ramblers are making their first Final Four appearance since 1963 … This is the 100th season of Loyola men’s basketball … Through last weekend, Loyola ranked fifth in the country in scoring defense and second in fewest personal fouls per game … Five Loyola players are averaging double-digit points, something the Ramblers haven’t done since 1963 … Michigan is in the Final Four for the first time since 2013 … Michigan is 6-1 in national semifinal games, the best record of any school that’s played in at least five … Michigan Coach John Beilein would hit 800 career victories if his team wins the national title … Charles Matthews leads Michigan in both points (16.5 ppg) and rebounds (7.3) during the NCAA tournament.
How Loyola got here:
- The Ramblers knocked off No. 6 seed Miami in a first-round thriller, 64-62, inching ahead when Donte Ingram connected on a long three-pointer as time was running out. It was their first NCAA tournament game (and win) since a 1985 trip that ended against Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the Sweet 16. And it made Sister Jean into a national sensation.
- More late-game dramatics against No. 3 Tennessee: Clayton Custer hit the go-ahead basket with less than four seconds left in a 63-62 win. That victory gave the Ramblers their 30th win, breaking the school record set by the 1963 NCAA championship team. And it put a focus on the Chicago school’s oddball charm.
- Another game, another big shot: Marques Townes hit a backbreaking three-pointer with less than seven seconds left to help clinch a 69-68 win over No. 7 seed Nevada. That made it three tournament wins by a total of four points.
- For the first time in the tournament, Loyola was able to relax in the final moments, coasting to a 78-62 win over No. 9 seed Kansas State. The Ramblers became just the fourth 11th seed to advance to the Final Four, and as George Mason showed, a world of opportunity now awaits.
How Michigan got here:
- The Wolverines trailed No. 14 seed Montana 10-0 before surging ahead for a 61-47 win.
- Their second-round game offered one of the tournament’s most dramatic endings, when freshman Jordan Poole bombed in a long three-pointer as time expired to clinch a 64-63 win over No. 6 seed Houston.
- That seemed to ignite the Wolverines, who dominated seventh-seeded Texas A&M in a 99-72 laugher. That makes three Elite Eight appearances in six years for Michigan. The Wolverines set an NCAA tournament record with eight players making at least one three-pointer in that game. Included in that group was freshman walk-on C.J. Baird, who had more fun than anyone in the win. Michigan is on the fashion vanguard, too, with some of the shortest shorts in this even
- Michigan outlasted No. 9 seed Florida State, 58-54, to reach its eighth Final Four. Despite some recent offensive struggles, German forward Moritz Wagner is a big reason the Wolverines play on.
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