The big day is almost here! Loyola University is making its first Final Four appearance in 55 years on Saturday, and fans are flocking to Texas to see them play.
Two busloads of students were scheduled to depart from the school's Gentile Arena at 10 a.m. Friday, headed to the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio.
Those students will be joining hundreds of Rambler fans who have already flocked to Texas for Loyola's Final Four appearance.
"I think they can do it," Joey Trunkato, of LaGrange, said, adding, "I'm down here to see them win the championship."
"It's a dream come true," echoed Paul Giardina, of Crystal Lake.
"Living in Chicago you get caught up in the excitement seeing the people," he continued. "It's pretty cool."
The team has been in Texas since Wednesday, taking in all the sights and sounds as they prepare for the game.
Thursday's practice was closed, but the team was spotted walking to their locker room and checking out their life-size cutouts on the walls.
Loyola plays inside Gentile Arena during the regular season - which seats less than 5,000. Saturday they'll play at the Alamo Dome, with 70,000 seats - a sight that had the team in awe.
"When I walked out there it really hit me, 'Wow, I'm really here, This is reality,'" said Marques Thownes. "This ranks on my number one all-time list."
"When you talk about playing in front of 17,000 in Atlanta to 70,000 is a great difference, added Donte Ingram, calling it "such a good feeling."
The Ramblers will get another look at the game floor when they hold an open practice in front of fans and media Friday. Then they'll go back to the hotel where they will make some final preparations and settle in ahead of Saturday's semifinal against the University of Michigan beginning at 5:09 p.m. CST.