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NCAA Latest: Ramblin’ On _ Loyola-Chicago in Final Four

March 25, 2018

The Latest on the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):

8:20 p.m.

Loyola-Chicago continued its improbable postseason run, beating Kansas State 78-62 on Saturday night to advance to its first Final Four in 55 years.

Extending its winning streak to 14 games, Loyola enjoyed strong shooting against a Kansas State team which relied on strong defense in the NCAA Tournament.

Led by Ben Richardson’s 23 points, the Ramblers shot 57.4 percent from the field in the NCAA South regional final. Richardson made six of seven 3-pointers.

Loyola will play in its first Final Four since 1963, when the Ramblers won their only championship. Kansas State was denied its attempt to return to the Final Four for the first time since 1964.

The Ramblers took a big lead of 23 points in the first matchup of No. 11 and No. 9 seeds in a regional final.

As the No. 11 seed, Loyola matches the lowest seed to play in the Final Four. Louisiana State (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011) also were No. 11 seeds.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta

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7:55 p.m.

Loyola-Chicago is blowing away expectations that its Elite Eight matchup with Kansas State would be a close game.

Instead, the first NCAA regional final to match No. 11 and No. 9 seeds is looking like a rout.

After leading 36-24 at halftime, the 11th-seeded Ramblers stretched the lead to 21 points on a layup by Aundre Jackson with 13:23 remaining.

Loyola, looking to extend its 13-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation, has answered every challenge from the Wildcats.

Loyola took a big lead of 23 points at 61-38.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta

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7:05 p.m.

Loyola-Chicago started hot, making its first three 3-pointers, to take a 36-24 halftime lead over Kansas State in the NCAA South Regional final on Saturday night.

Ben Richardson made three 3s and had 11 points in the half for the Ramblers, who are attempting to advance to their first Final Four since winning the 1963 championship.

Loyola, the No. 11 seed, continued its winning formula from its Sweet 16 win over Nevada by attacking the basket against the Wildcats, the No. 9 seed.

Xavier Sneed has eight points for Kansas State, which is looking for its first Final Four berth since 1964.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta

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6:30 p.m.

Players from the 1963 Loyola-Chicago championship team are back for the Ramblers’ Elite Eight matchup against Kansas State, and this time they’re sitting closer to their team.

For Loyola’s Sweet 16 win over Nevada on Thursday night, Jerry Harkness, the captain of the ’63 team, and three of his teammates had front-row seats across the court from the Ramblers.

For Saturday night’s South Regional final, the Ramblers’ elder statesmen are sitting immediately behind the Loyola bench.

The 1963 team won Loyola’s only national championship. The Ramblers haven’t made it back to another Final Four.

The ’63 team has joined Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, Loyola’s 98-year-old team chaplain, as famous supporters of the 11th-seeded Ramblers’ surprise march through the tournament.

Loyola has taken an early lead over K-State, 25-19 with less than seven minutes in the first half.

— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta.

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6 p.m.

Loyola-Chicago could join the great underdog programs to make the Final Four in the past 10 years.

Eleventh-seeded Loyola faces No. 9 seed Kansas State in the South Region final in Atlanta on Saturday.

Loyola is the Missouri Valley Conference champion. Schools from non-power conferences don’t often get this far. Last season, Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference made the Final Four, though the Zags shed the Cinderella label long ago.

Wichita State of the Missouri Valley made it in 2013. In 2011, Butler of the Horizon League and Virginia Commonwealth of the Colonial Athletic Association got there. Butler also played in the Final Four in 2010, losing a close championship game to Duke in its own city of Indianapolis.

In the other regional final Saturday, third-seeded Michigan plays ninth-seeded Florida State in the West Region in Los Angeles.

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5 p.m.

Time to punch the first two tickets to the Final Four. First up, a no. 9 seed or an 11.

Seems appropriate for this NCAA Tournament, where upsets have dominated especially in the South and West.

Ninth seeded Kansas State is a slight betting favorite over No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago in the South regional final in Atlanta. The second game Saturday night is in Los Angeles, where No. 3 seed Michigan plays No. 9 seed Florida State.

One of those four teams will eventually play for the national championship in San Antonio. Quite a feat considering three of those teams faced at least some bubble uncertainty in the final month of the regular season.

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