Another chapter will be written in one of the most memorable Cinderella stories in recent NCAA Tournament history on Saturday, as Loyola-Chicago takes on the University of Michigan at the Final Four in San Antonio.
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (32-5) may have come into the tournament as the South region�s No. 11 seed, but nobody is underestimating them at this point. After winning their first three games by a combined four points, the Ramblers dominated their regional final against Kansas State to reach the national semifinals.
Ramblers Looking for First Title in 55 Years
While hardly known as a basketball powerhouse these days, Loyola-Chicago does have one previous national championship — in 1963, when they defeated Cincinnati 60-58 in overtime to capture the title.
That remains the school�s only national championship. In fact, 2018 is their first tournament appearance since 1985, when the school made the Sweet 16.
That has made the Ramblers the biggest story of the tournament so far. But coach Porter Moser doesn�t see his team as a Cinderella that came out of nowhere.
�This is not something where it just started,� Moser told the Chicago Tribune. �These guys have been investing for a long time on how hard they worked, how hard they believed, and we�ve kind of had this mantra about the process.�
Michigan Unfazed by Cinderella
But while most of American will be rooting for the underdog, the Michigan Wolverines (32-7) will be looking to make this fairy tale come to an end. The No. 3 seed in the West, Michigan comes into the Final Four on a tear, having won 13 straight games heading into Saturday. And while the Wolverines have made a mildly surprising run themselves to get this far, they understand that the public will be largely rooting against them when they take on Loyola-Chicago.
�It�s definitely come up,� Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson told reporters when asked how the likelihood that the crowd will rally around their opponents. �But we just want to stay inside the box. That�s what�s key right now. We�ve been doing that. We�ve been winning. We want to stick with that.�
Michigan has reason to feel confident heading into the game. They have played excellent defense throughout the tournament, and appear to match up well against the Ramblers, who rely on guards to penetrate and create offense – something the Wolverines have done a great job of preventing so far.
Oddsmakers have unsurprisingly determined that Michigan should be the favorite in this matchup, though Loyola-Chicago has done more than enough at this point for anyone to think they�re not going to have a chance to pull yet another upset. According to Bovada, the Wolverines are a 5.5-point favorite over the Ramblers.
Regardless of who comes out of their Final Four encounter on top, however, the winner of this semifinal is certain to be an underdog in the national championship game. That�s especially true if they have to face Villanova, the odds-on favorite to win the title at this point. Michigan is currently listed at +250 to win the national championship, while Loyola-Chicago is the relative longshot at +850.