The 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are headed to Final Four. Marching their way through the tournament and issuing a slew of upsets along the way, the Ramblers tied Louisiana State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason as the lowest seeds to ever reach a Final Four. However, considering that all three aforementioned schools lost in the very next round in the national semifinals, should fans be upset that the lower-seeded Ramblers are occupying bracket space? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate.
Riley: Just like we discussed with UMBC a few weeks ago, it’s only fun to cheer for the underdog when they win it all. Seeing Loyola-Chicago squeeze out games against Miami, Tennessee and Nevada by a combined four points was fun, but if we have to see them smoked out against Michigan next week then I rather see the more competitive seed play. It’s easy to fall in love with these Cinderella schools this time of the year—but not for me. I want to see some players going in the first round of the upcoming draft and I want to be able to watch a school I’m familiar with come tourney time. For me, having the Ramblers in the Final Four is pretty upsetting.
Green: Having Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four is what the NCAA tournament is all about. We need schools like this to keep us intrigued no matter how unknown they are and no matter how far they advance. Each round that they dance through, the chances of them winning grows that much more. Am I banking on them winning it all? No. But am I expecting them to fight, scrap and claw in each game? Absolutely, and I’ll be looking for some more upsets.
Riley: I would love for the Ramblers to win it all, but the sad part is on the other side of the bracket lies some combination of Duke, Kansas and Villanova. And not to belittle Texas Tech, but would anyone be surprised if any of the top three remaining seeds were to win it all? They’re expected to at this stage in the tourney. How excited would you be see Duke/Loyola-Chicago in the championship game or Villanova/Loyola-Chicago? Underdogs only matter when they win, but after they get exposed (like they always do) then I’m left wondering would I have been better off watching the higher seed in the first place? It’s touchy, but I’m traditional. I rather see the better team on the bigger stage.
Green: For the record, did we really lose anything with the Ramblers taking out Miami, Tennessee, Nevada or Kansas State? It isn’t like they took down Virginia, North Carolina and Xavier. I’m staying just this short of saying the Ramblers had an easy bracket, but they didn’t really take down any heavy contenders of note. And even when they face off against Michigan next weekend, the Wolverines weren’t a super strong favorite coming into the tournament anyway so would it even be a surprise if Loyola-Chicago won that game? Seeing Loyola-Chicago potentially against a Kansas/Duke/Villanova would be the ultimate David vs. Goliath matchup and those type of battles have defined high school and college basketball over the years, selling millions in books and in the box office along the way. March
and April is the season of the underdog and if you can’t understand that, Riley, well then you just don’t like college basketball.