There are a few Northwestern students in the past 30 years who undoubtedly passed through their lives here without ever realizing that there is another Division I basketball program a mere four miles from Evanston. Yet the whole country now knows about the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers, the Missouri Valley champions who picked up two heart-stopping upsets over Miami and Tennessee in the first weekend en route to the Sweet 16. Loyola faces off against Nevada for a spot in the Sweet 16 (what a sentence), leaving Northwestern fans with a choice.
Is it ok to abandon all other teams and just root for Loyola to win it all now? We asked a trio of our writers to decide.
I’m pro-Loyola, for sure.
Everything about Loyola is great. There’s Sister Jean, the 98-year-old chaplain of Loyola who attended both games. There’s Loyola’s trademark scarves in the stands, which are always great. The fanbase seems to be having a great time and I don’t see why this is a problem. Donte Ingram’s buzzer-beater made me leap out of my chair. It would actually be kinda cool if Northwestern has a big crosstown rivalry with Loyola that matters. Let’s schedule some non-conference games! From what we’ve seen this year, it should be great for the résumé.
But really, is Loyola going to have a deep run every year? That would be seriously impressive, but probably not. Since this is likely a one-off, I find it hard not to support them fully. If Loyola becomes the new Wichita State of the MVC though, then it’ll get more difficult.
I think it’s really cool that Loyola made the Sweet 16. The cynic in me says it’s not good to have another Chicago school being successful for recruiting purposes, but Northwestern realistically isn’t competing with Loyola for recruits. Have some Chicago pride, people. It’s fun rooting for the little guy, even if Loyola is a legitimately good team. Ramble on.
It’s okay to root for the Ramblers. I don’t think Loyola poses an existential Chicagoland college basketball threat to Northwestern and the Ramblers sure are fun to watch play. Echoing Tristan’s point, I actually think a Northwestern-Loyola non-conference matchup would be a lot of fun. However, I’ll admit I’m rooting for Nevada in Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup. Authors of two of the greatest NCAA Tournament comebacks in history (seriously, check the win probability charts if you haven’t), Eric Musselman’s squad only gives six players any run on the floor and the Wolf Pack still have the sixth-best offense in the country. Come for the sweet benefits of the transfer market, stay for the PG-13 locker room celebrations. As you can tell, I’m a West Coast kid at heart.