It's time for Cinderella to go home

Friday, March 30, 2018

Loyola (Chicago) has been the best story of the 2018 NCAA tournament, but the Ramblers have no right to be in the position they are in. I'm still convinced Michigan will beat the Ramblers in the Final Four on Saturday and Kansas will win the championship game on Monday, but Loyola’s strength of schedule was ranked 126th coming into the tournament and they never sniffed the AP top 25 all year. In addition to that, had Loyola not won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, the Ramblers likely wouldn't have qualified as an at-large team in the NCAA tournament because of their poor resume.

The Ramblers, a No. 11 seed, are playing their best basketball at the right time of the season, but there is no question that Virginia, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arizona, all teams in Loyola’s bracket, would beat the Ramblers seven out of 10 times on a neutral court. They just don't have the athletes to compete with the quality teams I just listed above. On a side note, the only team on that list that the Ramblers had to play was Tennessee, a No. 3 seed. Loyola only won that game by a point.

The NCAA tournament is great and there is no need to change the format or allow fewer teams in the tournament, not that the NCAA would do that because of all of the money it brings in. It's just that letting 68 teams into a tournament with so much parity isn't the best way to find a true champion. That's not Loyola’s fault. Maybe they can take advantage of an imperfect system that sports fans love so much and the Ramblers can win an undeserving championship.

If the Ramblers were to pull of the impossible, they would rank up there with the New York Giants team that beat the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2008. The only difference is that New York had every right to be on the same field as New England that night.

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Ty Loftis is the Sports Editor of the Carroll County News. His email address is CCNSports@cox-internet.com

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