MI ends Loyola-Chicago's magical run

Lawrence Cooper
April 3, 2018

Seven different players made 3-pointers for the Wildcats as they jumped out to a 47-32 halftime lead.

Pretty soon, when Krutwig had opened the second half muscling in a shot through a Wagner foul, then let out some kind of guttural scream, Loyola Chicago led by 10, looking like it might have a big name itself. And they hit some shots. By the under-eight media timeout in the first half, sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson, who has a 2.69 assist-turnover ratio, coughed it up three times without scoring.

MI jumped out to a 12-4 lead, causing Moser to call timeout with 12:38 left.

MI got to Monday night with wins over a No. 14, a No. 6, a No. 7, a No. 9 and a No. 11.

Loyola led by 7 points at the half, but the Wolverines went on a 47-28 run in the second half. The Wolverines made it to their first Final Four that season. MI improved to 29-0 this season when Robinson scores at least six points. Their efforts headlined one of the Wolverines worst first half outputs of the season. "And that's the way we're going to do them".

Sister Jean Delores-Schmidt, the 98-year old nun who is the Loyola Ramblers' team chaplain became the face of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, greeted her Ramblers as they left the floor.

Sister Jean and the Loyola-Chicago fans are feeling pretty good at halftime, with the Ramblers leading MI 29-22 in the first game at the Final Four. The 11th seeded Ramblers are playing No. 3 seed MI for a spot in the NCAA title game.

There also will be some decisions for Moser and Loyola.

Junior Charles Matthews, who is from Chicago, added 17 points for MI.

Loyola is expected to return 10 of its 15 players to the roster next season, including MVC Player of the Year Clayton Custer and MVC Freshman of the Year Cameron Krutwig. Malik Newman added 21.

Newman sat out a year ago at Kansas and worked behind the scenes as a transfer after leaving Mississippi State following his freshman season.

"(The problem) was rebounding", Loyola guard Donte Ingram said.

"That was Moe at his best, definitely, " Abdur-Rahkman said.

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Over the final 14-plus minutes of play, the Wolverines (33-7) outscored the Ramblers (32-6), 38-16, and reached the National Championship Game for the sixth time in school history.

In the end, the Wolverines' superior defense, athleticism and size won out. They led MI by 10 points on two separate occasions during the second half, and seemed generally unfazed by playing on college basketball's biggest stage.

Custer scored seven straight points for Loyola at one point to put the Ramblers up 41-31 with 14:08 remaining. That is what a Beilein-led, March team looks like.

It's been an nearly all-or-nothing thing for Villanova and Jay Wright when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

MI will be seeking its second title on Monday, having beaten Seton Hall in 1989. That included a loss to North Carolina State as a 1-seed in 2015. But his Wolverines? After all they'd been through, they weren't supposed to be down double-digits, struggling to buy a bucket in the Final Four. "We're playing well at the right time".

Loyola had no answers for Wagner and Michigan's defensive play. Loyola started 2-for-11 from the field.

They flipped that switch to defeat the Ramblers.

Beilein says he isn't saying the seeding was wrong, but that "it's an inexact science to try and figure out". "Because of the stage we're on and the fact we needed it in a national semifinal, Final Four game".

Saturday night features two NCAA Tournament semifinals at the Alamodome. He still was lamenting the 11 second-half turnovers. And that's what they did, winning both the regular season and conference tournament to get the automatic bid.

The second is a battle of No. 1 seeds between East champion Villanova and Midwest champion Kansas. We've got high-character kids, and it was a credit to them.

MI (33-7) will face No. 1 seed Villanova, who smoked No. 1 Kansas 95-79, in Monday's national championship. Aundre Jackson came off the bench to score 10 points. The Jayhawks are trying for their first title since winning one in San Antonio in 2008.

The sport, full of transparent corruption now, did not deserve to have Loyola Chicago disinfect its premier event, but it received this gift anyway.

The winners of the games Saturday will meet Monday night for the title.

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