Tag Archives: MVC

The 25 Best Loyola Men’s Basketball Teams of All Time: Part 3 (#11-#15)

The countdown of the top 25 Loyola men’s basketball teams of all time continues. The previous teams in the countdown are here.

No. 15

The 2019-20 Loyola Ramblers:  Moments of Greatness, But a Meltdown is Entirely Possible

21-11, 13-5 Missouri Valley (2nd Place)

Three games into the 2019-20 men’s basketball season, Loyola lost to Coppin State at home.  The Ramblers were a team that went to the Final Four less than two years before, and they were coming off a conference championship and NIT bid.  And now they’re losing a buy game at home to a MEAC team.

These same Ramblers led South Florida by 6 points at the half and had a 12-point lead over Colorado State with less than 10 minutes to play before losing both games at their MTE in the Cayman Islands.

But Loyola took care of business in the MVC, registering a 13-5 record, losing to KenPom 49 UNI on the road in overtime and beating them in overtime at home.  Loyola also beat a top MAC team, Ball State, on the road and knocked off Vanderbilt at a neutral site in Phoenix. It was the Ramblers’ third consecutive 20-win season after having only two 20-win seasons in the previous 32 years.

As Arch Madness– the MVC conference tournament– approached, talk circulated about an airborne virus that could be deadly. Amid the beginning of this chaos, conference champion and #1 seed UNI lost by more than 20 points to Drake. It was a huge, crazy upset.  When Loyola played a few hours later, they built a 14-point halftime lead.  The Ramblers had an 18-point lead with 15:44 left, and a six-point lead with 28 seconds left.  But Valparaiso got their only win against Loyola in the MVC in a play-in, come from behind shocker, 73-72 in OT.

Meanwhile, the pandemic news kept getting worse, so in the days between the start of the conference tournament on Thurs. March 5, and the Tuesday after, March 10, the whole college basketball world shut down.  For the first time since 1937, there was no NCAA Tournament, and no NIT.

No. 14

The 1951-52 Loyola Ramblers:  Legendary Old School Ballers in Coach Ireland’s First Season


George Ireland’s tenure at Loyola started with three wins over cupcakes, and three losses in his first games against top teams. After beginning 3-3 with losses at #3 Illinois, at #20 Notre Dame and at home against unranked Western Michigan, the Ramblers had a really excellent season.

Led by Loyola legend Nick Kladis in his senior year, on January 10, 1952 the Ramblers knocked off #12 St. John’s at their big game home court, Madison Square Garden.  St. John’s went on to play in that year’s NCAA Tournament Final.  Later in the season at Chicago Stadium, the Ramblers beat #18 DePaul and #14 Seton Hall.  Loyola also staged a home/road sweep over Marquette, beat Xavier in Chicago, and went on the road to successfully avenge their early season loss to Western Michigan.

Along with Kladis, the ’52 Ramblers featured three other double-digit scorers:  6’7” center Don Hanrahan (16.7 ppg), guard Ed Maracich (12.4 ppg), and 6’0” forward Bill Sullivan (10.0 ppg). By the end of the year, Kladis finished his career with 1046 points, becoming the third Rambler to top the 1000 point mark– joining Jack Kerris (1556) and Ed Earle (1018). Kladis was selected in the 1952 NBA Draft, created the hugely successful One Stop Foods (remember the late-night commercials on WGN?), had his number 3 jersey retired by the Ramblers, and became a minority owner of the St. Louis Cardinals before passing away in 2009.

In 1952, the NCAA Tournament was one year from bumping up to  16 participants while the NIT had 12.  Some teams still competed in both tournaments (Dayton and St. John’s, for example, in 1952).  The NIT Final Four in 1952 were all future A-10 teams:  Dayton, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, and eventual champion LaSalle.  With only 26 teams playing postseason college basketball, (Dayton and St. John’s counted twice), the ’52 Ramblers were a bubble team that year whose bubble burst in both tournaments.

No. 13

The 1949-50 Loyola Ramblers:  Tough Schedule, Last Hurrah for Many Seniors


The Ramblers under Coach Tom Haggarty (1945-50) started off playing against some ad hoc amateur teams in the aftermath of WWII as returning veterans went back to college or sought other avenues for sports competition. Military training bases, YMCAs, and athletic clubs fielded basketball squads that often faced off against even Division I teams as society got back into shape.

Loyola had some great records (sometimes against teams with makeshift lineups) in the early years, and advanced to the point where Loyola was one of the top programs in college hoops once again.  Haggarty was a former DePaul Head Coach and Athletic Director who bailed to coach Loyola and rebuild the program after the War.

You see, Haggarty left DePaul in 1942 to join the Army.  Ray Meyer got his coaching spot and went to the NCAA Final Four in 1943, reached the NIT Final in 1944, and won the NIT in 1945.  Loyola had shut down their program during those years.  When Haggerty got out of the Army in 1944, DePaul gave him the position of Athletic Director and kept Meyer as Coach.  The next year, Haggerty jumped across the North Side and accepted the challenge of re-instituting the Loyola program as a coach and recruiter.

Haggerty got a real star—forward Jack Kerris, who was far and away the all time leading scorer at Loyola until the game changed in the 1960s. The 1950 team was Haggerty’s last in Chicago– he had health problems and went South to Loyola New Orleans.  He died in New Orleans at the age of 51 in 1956. 

Ben Bluitt became a University of Detroit assistant and Head Coach at Cornell University.

The 1950 Ramblers had five high-scoring seniors (Ralph Klaerich, Ed Earle, Ed Dawson, Ben Bluitt, and Frank O’Grady), plus sophomore star Nick Kladis.  Even though the team finished a middling 17-13, they beat #19 Oklahoma State at home, and Marquette, Syracuse, and Bowling Green on the road.  They took #1 Holy Cross down to the wire on the road, losing 53-48.  The team won 8 of its last 9 games down the stretch, including completion of a neutral sweep over DePaul and a home-road sweep over Dayton.

Yes, there were a lot of losses, but they were “quality losses,”  65 years before the term was invented: they lost at #1 Holy Cross, at #14 CCNY (who won both the NIT and NCAA Tournaments that year), at St. Bonaventure in Buffalo, at Notre Dame, and at home against #8 Duquesne.    

After losing the NIT Title game by 1 point the year before, this team– the first team put together after the total dissolution of the program in 1943– took a glorious victory lap against the country’s most challenging foes.  But if you think this ranking is just sentimentality, the good record against the strong opponents earned the 1950 team the 10th highest SRS in program history.

No. 12

The 1967-68 Loyola Ramblers: Undersized Overachievers

16-9 Overall       

The 1967-68 Ramblers had some great talent.  The two top scorers were 6’5” senior center Jim Tillman and 6’4” forward Corky Bell.  Six-foot-four sophomore Wade Fuller was also a double-digit scorer, but those were the three tallest players on the entire roster—no one over 6’5”. 

Sophomore guard Walter Robinson– a star player who would score 1297 points in his career at Loyola, and younger brother of Harlem Globetrotter and former Rambler Pablo Robinson—scored 13.7 per game in his debut season. Two 5’11” senior guards, Doug Wardlaw and Art Oates got significant playing time along with 6’4” backup center Coak Cannon.

Loyola’s Corky Bell posting up against Kareem in 1967.

Despite their diminutive stature, the overachieving ’68 Ramblers beat the likes of Kansas, Georgia Tech, Marquette, San Francisco, and BYU.  They went 3-2 against tournament teams, and at 16-8 on selection day, were probably were the last team in.  

As a reward for a just-barely-good-enough-to-make-the-tournament season, Loyola was matched up with undefeated #1 ranked Houston in the play-in round, a team with arguably the nation’s best player that year, 6’8” senior Elvin Hayes (1968’s NBA #1 Draft Pick).  The Ramblers lost 94-76, and would not return to the NCAA Tournament for 17 long years.

No. 11

The 2021-22 Loyola Ramblers: Super Seniors in MVC Swan Song

25-8, 13-5 Missouri Valley (Tied 2nd Place)

Four super seniors coming back for their last go-around and two Ivy League grad transfers led an experienced squad under first-year head coach Drew Valentine. But a curve ball put the whole season a little off balance right from the beginning.  On Nov. 16, just before the third game of the year against Chicago State, it was announced that Loyola would move to the A10 in the 2022-23 season.

At first, the news was just a bit shocking. Loyola had prospered excessively in the MVC, and in many eyes, the A10 was not a significant enough jump in prestige or competition to warrant jeopardizing a solid footing. But the MVC had recently announced that Belmont would be joining the league in 2022-23, and there were likely more additions to come.

By the time the conference season rolled around, the rest of the MVC– through podcasts, message boards, Twitter, and other means– started to coalesce around a fervent “Beat Loyola” theme.  The Ramblers were never really accepted by many stalwart MVC fans.  Wichita State fans cited Loyola joining the conference as one of the biggest factors in their exit from the conference in 2017.  Their constant complaining and degradation of Loyola on the message boards was sometimes shared by others.

Whether it was Big City hatred by a largely rural Midwestern conference, the anti-Loyola drumbeat by Wichita State fans for four years, or resentment that Loyola might want to leave a conference where there were many fans of other teams who were hostile– the MVC came together as one to pack their arenas and fire up their fans to send Loyola out with a loss.  By the time it came down to the conference regular season championship game, everyone in the MVC (including the refs) were rooting for Loyola’s demise.  The game that decided the regular season championship was an OT affair at UNI with a jam-packed arena, where UNI got 42 trips to the foul line against the team known to be careful about fouling.

Loyola won the MVC Tournament three times in their last five years in the conference.

The four super seniors (Lucas Williamson, Tate Hall, Keith Clemons, and Aher Uguak) and transfers (Chris Knight and Ryan Schweiger) on the ’22 Ramblers might have earned an at large bid with a KenPom ranking in the high 30s, an AP ranking of #22 in mid-January, and non-con wins over P6 teams like Arizona State, DePaul, and Vanderbilt.  But the emphatic Arch Madness statement wins (including a 23-point beat down of putative MVC regular season champion UNI, holding them to 9 points below their previous season low in scoring) earned Loyola a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Unfortunately for the Ramblers, an under-seeded Ohio State team returned key injured players to their roster just in time for the tournament and too many Loyola shots caught the rim the wrong way, resulting in a very ugly 54-41 first-round loss.  It was the last college game for all the super seniors.

Watch for the top 10 teams in Loyola men’s basketball history coming next week. Comment on the message board at www.ramblermania.net/forum

Loyola Joins the Atlantic 10 Conference July 1

Loyola’s move to the Atlantic 10 Conference– announced suddenly on the afternoon of Nov. 16, 2021– came as a surprise to almost everyone. Even many A-10 insiders said it was a thing of wonder to have it announced as a near total surprise, without any scuttlebutt or leaks.  It took me so much by surprise that I had to verify it three times over before I believed it myself.

The Ramblers had experienced some impressive success in the MVC, and the conference had already announced the addition of a respected program– Belmont– to next year’s lineup.  This might seem like a time where the MVC is on the move upwards, especially considering the addition of Murray State, another perennial tournament-level team.  Many Loyola fans from downstate and neighboring rural areas were initially disappointed.  Frankly, I initially thought it was something of a lateral move with worse travel.  But after some investigation it makes a whole lot of sense– even considering the MVC had been a positive, healthy home for the Ramblers for nine years, and the road trips were nearby and fun.

Over on the East Coast, the decision immediately made perfect sense to A-10 fans.  Rambler fans– after getting over the “out of the blue” surprise of the announcement– were mostly in favor of the decision, but there were a few (mostly location-related) reservations.  Here’s why Loyola’ move to the A-10 make a whole lot of sense:

Loyola’s move to the Atlantic 10 matches up the largest Jesuit school in the nation with many peer schools and former conference rivals.  Although the other schools in the A-10 are primarily on the east coast and will require more travel time and expense, A-10 schools have a markedly higher academic reputation, most of the schools have endowments that promise consistency in their academic and athletic investments, and the yearly funding levels for athletics more closely matches what the Ramblers have been spending in the MVC.

At the beginning of the 2021-22 basketball season, the MVC’s 10 member schools (including Loyola) had an average men’s basketball budget of $2,917,454, while the average of the 14 Atlantic 10 schools was $4,991,756 (Note: These are 2020 numbers, the latest numbers available).  But Loyola was far and away the leader in men’s basketball expenditures with $4,348,837– more than $570k above the second leading team (Bradley) in the MVC, and $1.4 million more than the average budget.  In the Atlantic 10, Loyola’s 2020 budget would rank 9th among the 15 schools as of 2020.

Loyola was also far-and-away the leader in university endowments as the MVC was composed at the start of the 2021-22 season: $1.072 billion.  The league average was $269 million. Without Loyola, the other nine schools averaged an endowment of only $180 million.  Belmont and Murray State were both below the average MVC endowment when Loyola was factored in.  Meanwhile, over in the A-10, Loyola’s endowment is just a few million more than the average A-10 endowment, and quite a bit more than the median endowment of $610 million.

Saint Louis University and Fordham are fellow Big City Jesuit schools, with similar enrollment, endowment, and academic reputation profiles.  St. Joseph’s is also an urban area Jesuit school with a fine basketball tradition.  Loyola was briefly conference mates with La Salle, Duquesne, and Dayton–three private schools with rich basketball histories.

The Ramblers have a 24-22 all time record against St. Louis, a former MCC conference mate in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Dayton was also in the MCC from 1988 to 1993, and Loyola is 15-33 all time against the Flyers.  Loyola is 3-2 all time against St. Bonaventure, 0-5 against La Salle, 6-11 against Duquesne, 3-2 against George Washington, 1-1 against Fordham, 2-1 against St. Joseph’s, 1-1 against Richmond, and 0-2 against Davidson.  The Ramblers have never played Rhode Island, UMass, George Mason, or VCU– which are the public schools in the A-10.

Through its history, the A-10 has had some legendary tournament success.  As a member of the A-10, Temple University went to the tournament 17 out of 18 years from 1984 to 2001, getting to the Elite Eight five times in that stretch.  Xavier left the MCC for the A-10 in the 1995-96 season, and reached the NCAA Tournament in 13 of 18 years in the A-10 before joining the Big East.  Butler– who missed out on the tournament their last year in the Horizon League– played one year in the A-10 before the formation of the new Big East, and their only year in the A-10 they got an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with an 11-5 conference record (tied for third place).

Having closely watched the quality of basketball in the MVC over the past nine-plus years, it might seem like the there’s not such a big difference between the two conferences.  After all, Loyola and Wichita State both made the Final Four in the past decade, and both the Ramblers and Shockers added another Sweet 16 besides their Final Four finishes.  UNI has a Sweet 16 and two first round wins since 2010. 

Nevertheless, the A-10 has had 45 NCAA Tournament bids since 2007-08, while the MVC has had 19.  That’s 3.2 bids per year for the A-10 and 1.35 per year for the MVC.  Since Temple, Butler and Xavier left the conference in 2013, the A-10 has had 24 bids while the MVC has had 11.  Saint Louis had three first-round wins in a row from 2012 to 2014; LaSalle had a Sweet 16 in 2013; VCU has made the NCAA Tournament seven of nine opportunities since it joined the A10 in 2013 (and notched two first round wins); Rhode Island had consecutive first-round wins in 2017 and 2018; and Dayton has had an Elite Eight and two first-round wins since 2009.  Add up the A10’s tournament wins on top of their 45 bids since 2008, and the A10 has had a record of success that spreads across the conference and improves the reputation of the league. 

The A-10 has had five at-large bids in the past four tournaments, while the MVC has had one.  From 2008 to 2018, the A-10 never had fewer than three bids to the tournament and had four, five, and six bids from 2012 to 2014.  Meanwhile, the MVC hasn’t had three bids in a single year since 2006. 

And here’s something really, really important– what if you win the league, but don’t win the tournament?  Over the past nine years in the MVC (since Loyola joined), the regular season conference champion has missed the tournament 5 times (UNI in 2022, UNI 2020, Drake and Loyola 2019, and Illinois State 2017).  No regular season champion has missed the NCAA Tournament in the A10 since St. Joseph’s in 2005 (when the conference had uneven East and West divisions). 

We all know AP rankings are very subjective, but no one can deny that they’re an important benchmark of recognition of a college basketball program.  Wichita State made it to a #2 national ranking (and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament) in 2013-14 as a member of the MVC.  The Shockers made it into the AP Top 25 each of their next three years in the MVC before leaving for the American Athletic Conference.  But since then, the only MVC members  to crack the AP Top 25 in the past five years are Loyola (six weeks in 2021, one week in 2022) and Drake (one week in 2021). 

Meanwhile, in the last three years, six different A-10 teams have made it into the AP Top 25 rankings.  And seven different A-10 teams (Davidson, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Richmond, VCU, Dayton, and Rhode Island) have been ranked in the past five years.  Since joining the A10 in 1995, Dayton has appeared in the AP Top 25 rankings ten times, culminating in a #3 ranking to end the season in 2020.

But Loyola is not just recruiting for men’s basketball players and other student-athletes through their A-10 affiliation– Loyola is looking to expand their academic recruiting and national profile by playing in New York City, New England, Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Charlotte, Richmond, Dayton, and Pittsburgh.   Almost 50% of Americans (47.6%) live in the Eastern time zone as opposed to 29% in the Central.  And the A-10 has a presence in four of the top 10, and seven of the top 26 US television markets– with multiple schools in the DC and Philly metros.  Add the Buffalo area with many St. Bonaventure fans (#53), Richmond (#56), and Dayton (#65), and the A-10 has a massive potential audience compared to the MVC.  The Missouri Valley has UIC/Valpo in the Chicago metro (#3), Belmont in Nashville (#29), and Drake in Des Moines (#68).

On the academic and reputation side, US News ranks eight of the 14 A-10 member schools entering the 2021-22 season as among the top 170 National Universities.  Not only that, but the University of Richmond (with its $3.3 billion endowment) and Davidson College (with its $1.3 billion endowment) were ranked #22 and #13 nationally among the 2000+ Liberal Arts colleges in that category.  That makes 10 of the 14 A-10 schools ranking among the top national colleges and universities, with four schools in the top 103– even before adding Loyola.  The MVC had two schools in the top 170, Loyola at 103 and Drake at 136.  UIC (tied with Loyola at #103) and Belmont (at #162) will help bump up the MVC’s academic reputation, but it’s a far cry from the A-10 profile.

In 2013, when Loyola had the chance to get out of the mismanaged, oppressive Horizon League– a conference that literally changed its conference tournament format as punishment for Loyola reaching the final instead of Butler– the Ramblers had corrected their anemic financial position of the 1990s, bolstered their endowment, and opened a quality on-campus facility. The MVC was a very good regional match for Loyola, and the Ramblers gave the MVC a large market for their broadcast marketing.  But Loyola’s Jesuit educational focus and urban megalopolis setting didn’t always fit well with the other schools in the league.  Loyola’s welcome to the conference was– er, tepid.  If you read the Wichita State message board, Loyola was the worst thing that ever happened to the MVC, and many Shocker fans used Loyola’s admission as a reason for jumping to the AAC.

In contrast to the MVC, Loyola’s move to the A-10 has been perfect.  No one has asked if The Pope is going to coach the basketball team, or if we approve of everything Lori Lightfoot says.  No one has come after us for the capacity of our arena, the liberalism (or conservatism) of the city we happened to be located in, whether our new coach is a capable, or whether we’ll add baseball to make them happy.  No one (that I know of) has posted an irate screed demanding that people in the A-10 head office be fired for even considering us as a member while the University of Nebraska-Omaha is out there.

Let us all appreciate this.


2013-2022: Looking Back on Loyola’s Time in the Missouri Valley Conference

As Loyola leaves the Missouri Valley Conference for the Atlantic 10 on July 1, 2022, it’s a good time to reflect on the Ramblers in the MVC. Loyola sports teams have had phenomenal success since joining the MVC and reversed a lot of negative opinions about Loyola sports both locally and nationally. Even within the Loyola community and the surrounding Rogers Park area, people have started to see Loyola as a more well-rounded school with some viable collegiate sports opportunities and sports as a local entertainment option. The impending move to the A-10 promises to be an even better match for the university both academically and in athletics.

In 1979, Loyola was one of the six founding members of the Midwestern City/Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League. The other schools were Butler, Evansville, Oklahoma City, Oral Roberts, and Xavier. At various times in the 1980s and early 1990s, the MCC had the makings of a power basketball conference, with Marquette, St. Louis, Dayton, Detroit, La Salle, and Duquesne filtering in and out of the league. But by 1995, all those schools besides Butler and Detroit were gone, and the departures meant the league had lost its auto bid to the NCAA Tournament for the 1992-93 season. To keep afloat, the conference raided the Mid-Continent Conference of six lower-budget public schools that had recently gained Division I status: Cleveland State, UIC, Northern Illinois, UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, and Wright State.

With six public schools added to Butler, Detroit, and Loyola, the quality of the league, the academics, and the athletic department resources of peer institutions changed in an instant. Loyola suddenly had a fierce league rival in their own media market/recruiting area, peer institutions in their league with Tier III academics, conference rivals who had larger assistant coaching staffs (paid as state employees), and new facilities of competitors constructed/funded by state government. It didn’t help much that Loyola was going through a really bad stretch of men’s basketball in the early 1990s. The university was running a huge deficit while painfully re-organizing their financial structure, and the facilities for athletics were terrible. With sub-par facilities, a tight budget, and little success on the playing field, Loyola remained mired (er, you could say stuck)in the Horizon League for 20 years.

By 2012, Butler also bailed out of the Horizon League, leaving for the A-10 and making Loyola the lone original member of the conference. But by the early 2010s, Loyola had upgraded or improved facilities, set their financial house in order, added coaching staff positions (especially with low-revenue sports), and started to achieve some success on the field. The following year, 2013, saw enormous conference re-alignment; approximately one third of Division I schools changed conferences in one year. And when the Missouri Valley Conference had a spot to fill, Loyola had their bags packed and sitting next to the door.

Since July 1, 2013, when the Ramblers officially joined the MVC, Loyola has had fantastic success in men’s basketball. Three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2018, 2021, 2022), an NCAA Final Four (2018), two NCAA Sweet 16s (2018, 2021), one trip to the NIT (2019), a CBI Championship (2015), three MVC tournament titles (2018, 2021, 2022), and three MVC regular-season championships (2018, 2019, 2021). The Ramblers had three different MVC Player of the Year recipients (Clayton Cuter, Marques Townes, Cameron Krutwig).

In the nine seasons Loyola had in the MVC, men’s basketball compiled a 191-110 (.635) overall record and 96-66 (.593) in conference. The Ramblers were 13-6 (.684) at Arch Madness, and had an 11-4 (.733) record in five postseason tournaments. The men’s squad captured trophies for winning the MVC tournament in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and got a giant NCAA trophy for winning the South Region in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

Women’s basketball changed coaches a few weeks before it was announced Loyola was headed for the MVC. Incoming head coach Sheryl Swoopes had a Hall of Fame playing resume, but her leadership style turned sour as her teams struggled. She drove away some of her best players before she was replaced, and Kate Achter did a good, but slow, job of rebuilding the program. Loyola was 98-172 (.363) overall and 55-107 (.340) in conference in the MVC. The Ramblers finished over .500 in conference twice, in 2016 and 2022.

Despite some struggles in women’s basketball, Loyola athletics had some great success in other women’s sports. Women’s soccer won their last four straight MVC Championships. Loyola’s women’s cross country ended their time in the MVC with three straight championships. Women’s volleyball reached the MVC Championship game in the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

In nine years in the MVC, men’s soccer had an 84-54-28 overall record, ranking as one of the two best programs in the league over that time. In five of their nine years in the MVC, the men’s soccer squad earned a top-two finish in the conference. The men’s soccer program won the regular season title and secured their first NCAA tournament win in program history in 2016, and the Ramblers played in three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championship games from 2018-2021, upsetting #9 Missouri State in 2019 to reach the NCAA Tournament for a second time representing the MVC.

After finishing in the bottom two places in five out of their first six years in the conference, men’s golf won the MVC Championship in 2021. Women’s golf finished last their first year in the league, but placed in the middle of the standings most other years.

And lastly but not least, although they don’t play in the MVC, men’s volleyball has had stunning success since Loyola joined the MVC. Only a week or so after Loyola’s move to the MVC was official, men’s volleyball won its first MIVA championship and first trip to the NCAA Tournament. The following two years, Loyola won the National Championship. In the past nine years, Loyola men’s volleyball has finished first or second in the MIVA standings six times out of eight.

Loyola’s time in the MVC was really astoundingly successful. Given where Loyola was in April 2013, it would be hard to rationally imagine the men’s basketball program being any more successful than it has over the past five years. The Ramblers knocked out a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament (bonus points– it was the Fighting Illini) en route to a second Sweet 16 appearance in four years. Think about this– Loyola had a double-digit lead in the National Semifinal game– in real life…. seriously! It’s still hard to process, even after subsequent success and five consecutive seasons of 20+ wins.

The astounding success in the MVC years has completely, absolutely, 100% obliterated almost all of the “yeah, you’ve got a National Championship, but what have you done lately?” talk that many Loyola fans had to listen to for decades. Moreover, the proud past of Loyola basketball has had a renaissance with newfound appreciation for the school’s role in civil rights, integration, and college basketball history.