Ramblers are aiming for their second Sweet 16 appearance in four years
INDIANAPOLIS (March 20, 2021) – Winner of 18 of its last 19 contests, including seven straight games, Loyola, which is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018, will attempt to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 for the second time in four years when it takes on No. 1 seed Illinois Sunday afternoon. Over the last four years, Loyola has established itself as one of the top mid-major programs in the country, going 98-35 (.737) and capturing three Missouri Valley Conference regular season crowns.
Since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, Loyola owns the most wins (98) of any of the 13 NCAA Division I teams in the state of Illinois. Bradley ranks second with 75 wins, followed by Illinois (71), Southern Illinois (65) and UIC (63) to round out the top five teams.
After shooting 8-for-45 (.178) from beyond the arc in the final two games of the regular season, Loyola has regained its stroke from long distance and has knocked down 39 of 84 attempts (.464) in the last four games. Over the last pair of outings, the Ramblers are hitting 47.7 percent (21-for-44) from downtown.
Under head coach Porter Moser, Loyola is making its fourth appearance in the postseason and he has guided the Ramblers to a 10-2 (.833) record in the second season. Moser steered Loyola to the CBI title in 2015, the NCAA Final Four in 2018 and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 2019.
Loyola – Illinois – The Series
Sunday’s game will be the 16th meeting between Loyola and Illinois and the Fighting Illini hold a 12-3 edge in the series and have won three straight against the Ramblers.
This marks the second time Loyola and Illinois are meeting in NCAA Tournament play. On March 16, 1963, the Ramblers picked up a 79-64 victory in East Lansing, Mich., in an NCAA Regional Final to advance to the NCAA Final Four.
Loyola and Illinois also met in the 1980 National Invitation Tournament (NIT), with the Illini earning a 105-87 decision.
The last time these teams met, Loyola hung around until the closing minutes, falling, 67-49, on November 11, 2011 in Champaign in Porter Moser‘s first game as the Ramblers’ head coach.
Top-seeded Illinois carries an eight-game winning streak into Sunday’s game and the Illini have won 15 of their last 16 contests overall. On Friday, Ayo Dosunmu totaled 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in a 78-49 victory over Drexel.
Illinois is 4-1 on neutral floors this year, with all four of those victories coming in the last week here in Indianapolis. The Big Ten Tournament champions are shooting 50.1 percent (887-for-1,770) from the field as a team.
The Illini boast a pair of Associated Press All-Americans in junior guard Ayo Dosunmu, who contributes 20.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while sophomore center Kofi Cockburn puts up 17.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 1.3 bpg, while connecting on 65.7 percent (207-for-315) of his field goal attempts.
Up Next The winner advances to next weekend’s Midwest Regional Semifinal in Indianapolis.
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