3.4.18

NOW THAT THE NETS ARE CUT DOWN.

The feel-good story of the men's basketball tournament had to be Loyola of Chicago, snagging a bid the only way they could snag it, and continuing to win until Michigan stopped the party.
The Ramblers played five unforgettable, unexpected NCAA tournament games in 17 days, reaching the Final Four and capturing America’s imagination simply by being themselves. Their authenticity and innocence created a cynicism-free zone around Loyola basketball, as hard as some out-of-touch folks tried to pollute it with silly controversy. The players were like the good kids who grew up in your neighborhood and Moser like that guy next to you on a flight who keeps talking long enough that you want his business card. Loyola’s support staff, from sports information director Bill Behrns to Tom Hitcho, Mr. Loyola who pushed Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt’s wheelchair, treated everyone with respect and sincerity even as the bandwagon got more crowded.

The national fascination with Loyola, by the way, went beyond Sister Jean, the adorable 98-year-old team chaplain who can pray more privately now. The Ramblers tapped into something else within everyone. They proved not everything about college sports is corrupt and suggested the hyphen in student-athlete actually applies. They played smart and selfless basketball on the court and acted humble and kind off it, appreciating everything they accomplished without taking anything for granted along the way.
Unfortunately, the collegiate sports cartel understands it has to rig the system to prevent the emergence of a separate tournament run exclusively by and for the so-called power conferences. "The NCAA Selection Committee clearly sent the message that playing Power Five schools factors into a team’s criteria, but nobody will want to play Loyola now."

Never mind that there's great play value in the Chicago area.
Wanted: Power Five foes for Loyola. Loyola-Northwestern at the United Center sounds fun. A Loyola-Notre Dame matchup makes sense. And who in Chicago wouldn’t love to see Loyola play Illinois or DePaul?
Let's enjoy the sailing season, oh, and baseball, first.

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