Loyola Chicago avenged two regular season losses against Drake and defeated them 64-58 to win the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament championship. The Loyola Chicago Ramblers, and their most-famous fan and former chaplain Sister Jean, are headed to the March Madness tournament in back-to-back seasons.

Loyola Chicago MVC Drake March Madness Missouri Valley Conference
Garrett Sturtz (3) from Drake attempts to grab a loose ball from Lucas Williamson (1)  from the Loyola Chicago Ramblers in the Missouri Valley Conference finals of their conference tournament. (Image: Jeff Roberson/AP)

Loyola Chicago busted numerous brackets during their magical run as the Cinderella team during the 2018 March Madness college basketball tournament. The Ramblers secured a spot in the 2018 Final Four as an #11 seed before Michigan knocked them out in the semifinals.

In the 2021 March Madness tournament, the #8-seeded Loyola Chicago won their first two games, but were upended by #12 Oregon State in the Sweet 16.

This season marks the first time in nearly 60 years in which Loyola Chicago earned consecutive bids to March Madness. The last time they achieved that was back in 1962 and 1963. During the 1963 season, the Ramblers ran the table in the tournament and won the NCAA men’s college basketball championship.

At 102-years young, Sister Jean will be able to sweat her team as Loyola Chicago’s good luck charm in March Madness one more time.

This season marked the final year that the Ramblers play in the Missouri Valley Conference. Next season, they will join the Atlantic 10 Conference.

MVC Avengers

Loyola Chicago found themselves on the March Madness bubble. The selection committee is not kind to mid-major schools, especially those from the MVC. The committee prefer schools from the bigger conference, so the Ramblers needed to win the MVC conference tournament to avoid being at the mercy of the selection committee.

The Loyola Chicago Ramblers went 13-5 in the MVC regular season. Two of their losses were at the hands of Drake with a nine-point loss and seven-point defeat.

In the MVC conference tournament, the Ramblers won three games in three days to lock up an automatic bid to March Madness. They defeated Bradley in the opening round with an easy 16-point victory and were led by Lucas Williamson’s16 points. In the MVC semifinals, the Ramblers blew out Northern Iowa 66-43 thanks to 19 points from Braden Norris. The 23-point victory felt great for the Ramblers considering they lost a 102-96 shootout in overtime in the final game of the regular season.

Drake needed an overtime session to sneak past Missouri State 79-78 in the semifinals. A trip to March Madness was a stake in the MVC finals between Drake and Loyola Chicago.

Drake jumped out of the gate with an early 18-8 lead when Loyola Chicago’s shooters went cold. The Ramblers went on a 7-0 run to close out the first half and trim the deficit to two points.

In the second half, Drake ran out of gas against the Ramblers’ tough defense and lost by six points. Williamson led the Ramblers with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Aher Uguak added 16 points and hailed down 10 boards as well.