JOE BIDDLE: Ramblers out of gas

Joe-Biddle
APTOPIX Final Four Loyola Michigan Basketball_1522550520729

Loyola-Chicago’s Marques Townes reacts after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Michigan, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in San Antonio. Michigan won 69-57. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“Why not us?’’ Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser asked his team before the NCAA Tournament.

They were the darlings of the tournament, beating every team in their way until the Final Four semifinals.

They got a lot of their energy from a 98-year-old nun, Sister Jean. She even had a Sister Jean Bobble doll with her at the game.

However, Michigan Coach John Beilein was brought up in the Jesuit religion and had a deep admiration of the Loyola of Chicago program.

For a first half and mid-way through the second half, the Rattlers were in the game against Michigan, the Big Ten tournament champion.

In the end Michigan had the Mo and the Rattlers could not catch up. They were running on fumes. It ended the season for Loyola Chicago with a 69-57 loss.

Mo was with Moritz Wagner, a 6-11 tall drink of water in the paint on both ends of the court. This Mo finished with 24 points on 10 of 16 shots, 15 rebounds, three treys, same number of steals and an assist to lead the Wolverines.

It stayed close until Michigan managed a 19-6 run to put the game out of reach. The Ramblers had no answer and the dream became a nightmare.

This has been a Final Four, leaving brackets busted early in the tournament.

The nightcap looked early on to be all Villanova over Kansas. Villanova held a 47-32 lead at halftime in the nightcap.

They were on fire from the 3-point line in the first half. They canned 13 of their 26 shots, helping them big and early lead that lasted until halftime.

The championship game is set for Monday night. It sets up for two power conference teams, leaving no room for those who would dare to dream.

The Ramblers have nothing to be ashamed about. They will be remembered for some time by basketball fans and those who like to pull for underdogs.

Michigan Coach John Beilein didn’t have a Bobble Head, but he did get some face time with a call from Michigan alumnus and Patriots NFL quarterback Tom Brady.

It was the Michigan defense that came to play and turned the game around.

“Our defense got better. It was really good down the stretch,’’ Beilein said.

There was little the Ramblers could do to stop the bleeding.

They were still the team this country was pulling for, even if they didn’t know anything about college basketball.

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports analyst. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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