Loyola-Chicago Upsets Illinois in NCAA Tournament to reach Sweet 16


Top-seed Illinois is out. The No. 8 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers — and, of course, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt — are in the Sweet 16 after steering past the Fighting Illini, 71-58, on Sunday.

Illinois became the first No. 1 seed to be ousted in this year’s N.C.A.A. men’s tournament, faltering from the start of the second round in Indianapolis and only sporadically looking any better. It was the earliest exit for a region’s top seed since 2018.

And Loyola-Chicago, which reached the Final Four in that 2018 tournament and transformed the team chaplain, known simply as Sister Jean, into a joyful symbol of college basketball fealty, extended its record of pulverizing the postseason ambitions of ostensibly mightier schools.

On Friday, it defeated Georgia Tech, which had won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. On Sunday, it was Illinois, the winner of the Big Ten tournament and a favorite in brackets from coast to coast, that collapsed.

The Ramblers, who never trailed on Saturday, capitalized on steals and turnovers. They mounted big runs as a masked Sister Jean, now 101, watched, her eyes so frequently fixed with approval. Most of their scoring came in the paint, and three players — Marquise Kennedy, Cameron Krutwig and Lucas Williamson — each had at least 13 points on the day.

In the round of 16, which will begin next weekend, Loyola will play the winner of Sunday night’s game between No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Oregon State.


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