Loyola Chicago, the team NCAA basketball did not deserve, exits stage right

Michigan head coach John Beilein left watches his

It's bitter sweet because you know, we would wanna be the team you know in the Final Four right now because they're the ones that knocked us out at conference, but at the same time, you know you like to see Missouri Valley Conference do well and it's really gonna bring a lot more attention to our conference in the future.

For a while it looked like the MI basketball team would be the next victim of Loyola-Chicago's surprise NCAA Tournament run.

The 98-year-old nun leaned up from her wheelchair to greet each Rambler with a hug and a few consoling words - a dozen gentle versions of solace, according to the players who love her. MI beat Loyola-Chicago 69-57 earlier in the Alamodome.

Wagner became the third player in the last 40 years with a 20 and 15 game in a Final Four game, joining Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston in 1983 and Larry Bird of Indiana State in 1979. MI became the first team since the NCAA Tournament expanded to six rounds in 1985 to reach the final without playing a 5 seed or better. At moments, it seemed like it might keep whacking fruitlessly as its shot persistently banged off the rim.

Poole cut it to 47-44 with a drive and finish at 7:45.

After falling behind, 12-4, in the game's first 7½ minutes, Loyola controlled the next 25 minutes of action before succumbing to the size and skill of MI forward Moritz Wagner, who finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, and suffering from a rash of 17 turnovers, including five in a row during a critical second-half stretch.

The scoring would ease from there, while the defense on Loyola's blissfully structured offense would do hard business. They scored 22 points off 16 turnovers by Loyola. In the second half, his influence was especially evident as MI forced 11 turnovers from Loyola's veteran players.

"It was great to see her there after the game", guard Clayton Custer said. Down 47-44 with 6:05 remaining, Wagner calmly corralled a low-post pass, dribbled to the corner and knocked down a triple. Zavier Simpson was kept off the scoreboard, making 0 of 6 shots. They led MI by 10 points on two separate occasions during the second half, and seemed generally unfazed by playing on college basketball's biggest stage.

"They are a really good defensive team", Loyola guard Marques Townes said, confirming what was apparent, "and we had an emphasis to try and take care of the ball".

But it doesn't matter how it happened - they made it to the biggest stage in college basketball.

The Ramblers took a 29-22 lead into the locker room at halftime but could not hold on as a lengthy second-half run by MI toppled them.

Heading into Saturday night, the men's Final Four record for most three-pointers in a game was 13 (UNLV vs. in in 1987, the first year of the three-point shot).

Omari Spellman #14 of the Villanova Wildcats shoots against Udoka Azubuike #35 of the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half during the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at the Alamodome on March 31, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. It made two of 13 3-point attempts. And they hit some shots. Included in that was a 4-for-5 night from beyond the arc, and in total seven Villanova players made at least one three-pointer.

They were back in it, back demonstrating how their No. 11 seeding had been a mirage. The 14-game winning streak, longest in the nation, was finished.

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