Loyola, K-State an unlikely matchup

Final Four 2018: Michigan to play Loyola Chicago after beating Florida State

Final Four 2018: Michigan to play Loyola Chicago after beating Florida State

We should have known when UMBC beat Virginia in the first round that this side of the bracket would end up the way it has: with madness reigning supreme.

Sure, the thought goes, the fans love the upsets early, but they don't love them late when the brackets are busted, and teams they don't know reach the Final Four.

No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs.

The Elite Eight of this 2018 NCAA Tournament is set.

Loyola Chicago and guard Marques Townes will try to continue their surprising run. There is always a weird way the bracket cramps to give us outcomes nearly nobody - and in this case, maybe quite literally not one human - thought possible. The Wildcats took down UBMC in the second round.

In the NCAA tournament, MI got a comfortable win in their opener against Missouri before needing a buzzer beater in the second round to beat Houston and advance. Kidding, kidding. But it does feel as if there has been some divine intervention at work here.

For Loyola's Sweet 16 win over Nevada on Thursday night, Jerry Harkness, the captain of the '63 team, and three of his teammates had front-row seats across the court from the Ramblers.

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The bone of contention largely seems to be the names under the head "Extra Officials" in the list sent out by the IOA to the Sports Ministry.

The Seminoles have also been playing some tough defense during the tournament. If it wins, it will be because its D and outside shooters come through again.

Kansas State 63, Loyola-Chicago 60.

Schedule: Loyola (31-5) and Kansas State (25-11) will tip off at 6:09 p.m. Saturday on TBS. But just as importantly, Walker's trip to the free throw line ended with zero points for Miami and a rebound for Loyola Chicago. Think about how remarkable that win against Kentucky truly was: Kansas State had three players foul out, yet still found a way to win. It was a great shooting performance for the Wolverines, as they hit almost 62 percent from the field and 58.3 percent of their 3-pointers (14-of-24). The Bulldogs, however, would come back from a 12 point deficit to take the lead with under seven minutes to go - before CJ Walker and PJ Savoy hit three straight three pointers and the Noles led by nine points at the break.

If Kansas State loses it will be because: It can't get much going on offense.

In the other regional final Saturday, third-seeded MI plays ninth-seeded Florida State in the West Region in Los Angeles.

While it has served as its biggest asset, Florida State's depth could be an issue against MI.

Florida State and MI played their most impressive games in the tournament in the Sweet 16 - and that includes Florida State's win over No. 1 Xavier to get to this point.

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No. 3 MI vs.

Meanwhile, Florida State used its athleticism and depth to overwhelm Gonzaga.

As a top seed the last two seasons, Kansas made it through the regional semifinals, only to flop a game shy of the Final Four both times.

For tonight's game, the Odds Shark point spread consensus now has the Kansas State Wildcats favored by just a point.

Keys to a Michigan Win?

"The whole nation must be sort of sitting on the edge of their chairs tonight", said Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, Loyola's 98-year-old team chaplain. Not only that, MI had 21 assists - suggesting again that its offense was humming. While Friday marked the anniversary of the 1963 Loyola team winning their first tournament title over Cincinnati, Loyola Coach Porter Moser remembered another milestone from that tournament. But it has been that way all tournament - the bench has accounted for 53 percent of their total points.

Syracuse (23-14), the last at-large team invited to the tournament, saw its unlikely run to the Sweet 16 end - unable to overcome 16 turnovers against a Mike Krzyzewski-designed zone that was every bit as pesky as Jim Boeheim's vaunted 2-3. It's the byproduct of Kentucky really squandering a great opportunity. If Florida State's renewed defensive effort and intensity falters and resembles what it looked like before the tournament began, it's bad news for the Seminoles.

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