Speed Reads

March Madness

Loyola Chicago stuns top-seeded Illinois, returns to Sweet 16 in convincing fashion

Sister Jean is at it again.

Loyola University Chicago's men's basketball team, the No. 8 seed in their region, defeated top-seeded Illinois, 71-58, in the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament on Sunday. With the intra-state win, the Ramblers will advance to their second Sweet 16 in just four years.

The 2018 Loyola squad, an 11-seed, went on a shocking run to the Final Four that year. A Cinderella story, they captured the hearts and minds of hoops fans across the country, in no small part because of the presence of the team's beloved, now 101-year-old chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, who delivered a pregame prayer (complete with a call for a strong rebounding performance) before Sunday's matchup with Illinois.

Loyola's players will likely give Sister Jean her due credit, but the Ramblers, who may have deserved a better seed than they got this year, are no longer just a feel-good story that will be satisfied with a second-round upset. Illinois was a title contender, and Loyola was in control for most of the game, jumping out to a 9-2 lead that never went away thanks, in large part, to stellar performances from center Cameron Krutwig and guard Lucas Williamson, two seniors who are holdovers from the 2018 team. They scored 21 and 14 points, respectively, while going toe-to-toe with Illinois stars Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu.