A look at the NCAA Final Four game between No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago (32-5) and No. 3 Michigan (32-7), scheduled for 6:09 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Not get intimidated by the moment. The Ramblers sure haven't so far in taking out Miami, Tennessee and Nevada by a combined four points, before ripping apart Kansas State by 16. But this stage is a different one, literally. Getting out on a raised court inside a football dome tells every player he's in a different place.
Throughout this tournament, Loyola's ball movement has been a marvel and its defense, beyond legit. Saturday night is just a different kind of test, against a Wolverines team rated fourth in Division I in defensive efficiency. Wolverines coach John Beilein talked about Loyola having a great — "not good, great" — passing center in freshman Cameron Krutwig, and how that is a big key to Loyola's success.
The Wolverines last lost a game on Feb. 6, at Northwestern and tend to get out of the gate quickly. Charles Matthews, the transfer guard from Kentucky, has been on an NCAA tear, averaging 16.5 points in the tournament. He has made only 4 of 16 three-pointers, but is 23 for 31 from inside the arc. Defensively, Michigan is the best this tournament has left to offer, giving up just 59 points a game.
The late Rick Majerus taught Loyola coach Porter Moser how to coach, and insiders will tell you there aren't too many better mentors in the game. Precise footwork is a hallmark of this Ramblers team, no surprise to anyone who watched Majerus teams over the years, especially the Utah group that made the Final Four 20 years ago.