Loyola was one of the biggest stories of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and now three years later they’re hoping to make noise once again as they open their tournament against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Friday afternoon.
The Ramblers didn’t make the tournament field in 2019, but their 2018 run was the stuff of legends, as the 11th-seeded squad reached the Final Four before being knocked out by Michigan.
One of the key figures on that team is still on the squad, and Cameron Krutwig hopes to continue to have an outsized presence in this game. Krutwig led the Ramblers with 15 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3 assists per game this season, all while playing 28.1 minutes per game.
Guards Braden Norris, who averaged 8.1 points and 2.9 assists per game this season, and Lucas Williamson, who averaged 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest, will also be key in the Rambler backcourt, with Norris knocking down 40% of his attempted three-pointers this season.
Georgia Tech is hoping to prevent Loyola from embarking on another Cinderella run.
The Yellow Jackets are extremely aggressive in attacking the ball, with Jose Alvarado leading the team with three steals per game during the regular season. In fact, five different Georgia Tech players averaged a steal or more per game, making them one of the most dangerous squads in the tournament in that category.
Michael Devoe, who averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and Jordan Usher, who averaged 11.5 points and 1.6 steals per contest, also bear watching for the Jackets.
According to ESPN, the key number to watch for Georgia Tech is 68, as in 68 points scored. If they score fewer than 68 points, the Yellow Jackets have gone winless at 0-5. If they score at least 68 points, they are 17-3.
Fortunately for the Ramblers, their defense has been arguably the best in the country, as the team has allowed just 55.5 points per game so far this season.
Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m., and the game can be seen on TBS.