Loyola Ramblers: An Elite 8 Duel with the Wildcats Looms

Two best friends from Overland Park head to Final Four with Loyola

For some, the Elite Eight is familiar territory that is a stepping stone towards garnering another place in the Final Four, adding to their already impressive cache of postseason success.

But then again, perhaps Kansas State's path to the regional final should not be seen as a surprise. It's a story decades in the making, something only college basketball could provide.

Florida State, meanwhile, has had a much more hard journey to the Elite Eight, having to defeat 8 seed Missouri, 1 seed Xavier and 4 seed Gonzaga to make it this far.

Texas Tech is headed to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. Although it's easy to focus on Duke's adept perimeter shooters as the reason for their impressive success in the tournament thus far, it has actually been their lengthy defenders that have allowed them to comfortably defeat their opponents even when they struggle to score on offense. And incredible. Its unpredictability keeps it extraordinary every year. Now she's celebrating her own busted bracket.

Kansas State, led by senior guard Denis Clemente, junior guard Jacob Pullen and sophomore forward Jamar Samuels, surged to 29-8 record - a school record for wins - in 2010.

Loyola is on a magical run in the NCAA Tournament, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot on their way to winning three games by a total of just four points.

The Red Raiders played a dynamic game in beating Purdue in the Sweet 16, but the assignment against Jay Wright's Wildcats will be much tougher. His initial laments about being placed in a tough region wound up coming back to haunt, as United Kingdom was done in by a similar breed of cat. Often criticized for his lack of postseason success, head coach Leonard Hamilton has now rattled back-to-back upsets against No.1 Xavier and No. 4 Gonzaga, who played in the National Championship a year ago. Instead, he missed the first free throw attempt.

Calipari's experienced that in the NCAA Tournament before.

In 1987-88, Silver Lake native Lon Kruger was Kansas State's coach, and the Wildcats were playing their final season in storied Ahearn Field House. The 1963 team beat top-ranked Cincinnati in the championship game, but the team is better remembered for the "Game of Change" against Mississippi State earlier in the tournament. Any one of us could have hit that shot, but I was just fortunate enough to be in the position.

The same is true for Kansas State (25-11). Then it played UMBC and had the world rooting against it. Of course, that's the same type of thinking Kentucky fans had against Kansas State, and look where that got the Wildcats.

But here it is. Meanwhile, the Loyola Ramblers management acknowledges that the nun knows her stuff when it comes to basketball hence she remains one of its valuable members. Chaos has always been a feature, not a bug, of the first weekend of the tournament. Guards Charles Matthews and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman were the leading scorers against a hot Texas A&M team that upset North Carolina with 18 and 24 points, respectively, with Abdur-Rahkman going 4-of-7 from three-point range.

"You know, like you know from being there in Chicago, it was a grass-roots rebuild", Moser said. The South Regional is historic.

The Ramblers will have to be at their best against the hard-nosed Kansas State Wildcats in their Elite Eight matchup Saturday. Both teams struggled from the floor, but it was Villanova's defense and not West Virginia's that got the stops needed to pull away late.

Malik Newman led the Jayhawks (30-7) with 17 points in a one-time runaway that got much closer and, quite frankly, won't mean much if KU can't finish the job in the Midwest Region final Sunday.

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