CHICAGO (CBS) — After another heart-pounding win in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, the Loyola Ramblers move ahead to the Elite Eight on Saturday, and their fans couldn’t be more pumped.
For the third straight game, Loyola pulled off an upset in dramatic style. Marques Townes gave the Ramblers a four-point lead with a clutch three-pointer with seven seconds left, and Loyola held on for a 69-68 win over Nevada.
The shot rocked the rafters on the Loyola campus in Rogers Park, and in homes and bars packed with Ramblers fans across the country.
The win sent Loyola to its first Elite Eight since 1963, when they won the NCAA national title. It remains the only tournament championship ever by a team from Illinois.
It seemed like virtually all of the 15,000 students on campus have latched on to the wild ride as the Ramblers prepare to next take on the Kansas State Wildcats.
“They’re humble humble guys here coming from a small conference, I guess, but they’re dedicated. They’re committed, and I don’t think they’ll let anything get in the way of getting there,” Loyola student Daniel Catlin said.
Other students said it has been really cool to see all the excitement and team spirit on campus.
“It’s the most amazing thing ever. Everyone’s talking about it. You haven’t seen this many people excited in a really long time, and it’s really awesome to see you can go up to anyone now and everyone’s excited about the Ramblers,” Sloan Smith said.
The sports editor of the student newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix, has written an open letter to Pope Francis, asking him to canonize Sister Jean, the team’s most famous fan.
If the 98-year-old nun can help lead the Jesuit university to its second national title, who knows what the pope might do. One thing’s for sure, it’s pretty fun to think about.