The Ramblers have won their last three NCAA First Round games
Loyola vs. Ohio State
Date: March 18, 2022
Time: 11:15 a.m. CT
Site: PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Radio: AM 560 The Answer (WIND); Westwood One; Sirius (Ch. 135), XM (Ch. 202), Sirius XM Internet (Ch. 965)
CHICAGO (March 16, 2022) – Loyola makes its third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five seasons when it battles Ohio State in a First Round game in Pittsburgh on Friday. The Ramblers are 6-2 in their last eight NCAA Tournament contests and in their last three trips to the Big Dance have reached the Sweet 16 (2021), Final Four (2018) and Sweet 16 again (1985).
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, which also coincides with the arrival of guard Lucas Williamson and current head coach Drew Valentine to the program, Loyola is 124-43 (.743), making it one of the premier programs in the nation during that period. Williamson is the winningest player in program history with those 124 victories.
The youngest head coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, Drew Valentine has guided the Ramblers to 25 wins, a program record by a first-year head coach. He is also the first head coach in Loyola annals to pilot the program to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his first season on the Rambler sidelines.
Loyola has earned a NCAA Tournament berth in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1962-63 and 1963-64 campaigns. The Ramblers won the national championship in 1963 and reached the NCAA Regional semifinals in 1963-64.
Over three games at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship two weeks ago, Loyola’s defense was superb, limiting opponents to 50.3 points per game on an anemic 30.1 percent (50-for-166) from the field and 20.3 percent (13-for-64) from three-point land.
Loyola in the NCAA Tournament
Loyola is in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in program history and third time in the last five years. The Ramblers also reached the Big Dance in 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1985, 2018 and 2021.
The Ramblers are 15-6 (.714) in NCAA Tournament action and are 8-3 (.727) in their last three appearances on the big stage. Last season, the Ramblers took down No. 1 seed Illinois, 71-58, in the second round in Indianapolis.
Loyola has won at least one game in five of its previous seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Over the last two NCAA Tournaments (2021 and 2019), No. 10 seeds are 5-3 in first round action.
When the Ramblers have made the NCAA Tournament, they have made plenty of noise, winning the national championship in 1963, reaching the Sweet 16 in 1985 and 2021, and advancing all the way to the Final Four in 2018.
On March 11, 1963, Loyola throttled Tennessee Tech, 111-42, in the opening round and that 69-point win still stands as the largest margin of victory ever in NCAA Tournament play.
Loyola played in one of the most important games in the integration of college basketball on March 15, 1963, when it defeated Mississippi State, 61-51, in the NCAA Regional Semifinals in East Lansing, Mich., in a contest that came to be known as the Game of Change. That game forever shaped the state of Mississippi and the south after the courageous Mississippi State squad defied an unwritten state law that prohibited games against integrated teams. The Maroons snuck out of town under the cover of darkness to play a Loyola team that featured an unprecedented for the time, four Black starters.
Loyola – Ohio State – The Series
Friday’s NCAA First Round matchup will be Loyola’s fifth all-time meeting with Ohio State and the Buckeyes have prevailed in each of the first four contests. The Ramblers and Buckeyes are meeting for the first time in the postseason.
Loyola is 38-88 (.302) all time versus current members of the Big Ten Conference and in last year’s NCAA Second Round, the No. 8 seed Ramblers pulled off a major upset, dumping top-seeded Illinois, 71-58, in Indianapolis. In 2018, the Ramblers fell to Michigan, 69-57, in the NCAA Final Four.
This will be the first meeting between Loyola and Ohio State since November 11, 2006, when the Buckeyes earned an 87-75 victory at the BCA Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Blake Schilb scored 19 points to lead the Ramblers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 27-point, 11-rebound effort from OSU’s Ron Lewis.
Scouting Ohio State
Ohio State has dropped four of its last five outings, including a 71-68 setback versus Penn State at the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis last weekend. The Buckeyes’ last three losses have come by a grand total of 17 points and six of their 11 setbacks this season have been by six points or less.
Belleville, Ill., native E.J. Liddell, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, is the focal point of the Ohio State attack and he averages a team-best 19.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, while chipping in 2.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per contest.
Freshman guard Malaki Branham is the only other Buckeye scoring in double digits, contributing 13.3 ppg.
Loyola’s Braden Norris played against current Buckeyes Justin Ahrens and Kyle Young in high school in Ohio.
The winner of Friday’s game will face the winner of the No. 2 Villanova versus No. 15 Delaware contest on Sunday, March 20, in Pittsburgh.
COURTESY LOYOLA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS