By: Sammy Stava
We know The Valley is certainly in contention to be a two-bid league for the NCAA Tournament, but going into this weekend, there was an outside shot for getting three bids. A lot had to happen, though.
Loyola wasn’t having any of that. They’re the top-seed, the No. 1 defensive team on KenPom, the No. 20 team in the country, and at-large NCAA Tournament bound for a reason.
The Ramblers just simply know how to win, and they looked good doing so on Saturday. Loyola started the game six for seven from three-point range and took a 42-28 lead into halftime. And no, they didn’t get complacent in the second half.
Loyola is a veteran laden team that has been here before, and it is showing in this tournament run. They took care of business against a shorthanded Southern Illinois squad in the quarterfinals, but Indiana State had the potential to challenge the Ramblers with their talent.
The Sycamores had a run in them in the second half, but the Ramblers had more than enough to finish off a convincing victory. Who else, but the senior Cameron Krutwig was the story on Saturday. He led the team in all offensive categories with 18 points, 11 assists, and four rebounds. Loyola improved to 23-4 on the season with a 65-49 win.
The Ramblers have advanced to Championship Sunday without seriously getting tested in these first two games. Loyola is back in this stage for the first time since 2018. Their at-large bid is all but secured, but their automatic bid awaits – against the winner of Missouri State and Drake.