The Illinois Fighting Illini have been given the top seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers were awarded the eighth seed in that same region, potentially setting up a second-round matchup between the schools.
Illinois’ top seed comes with a matchup against Drexel in the first round, while Loyola-Chicago will face the ninth-seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The seeding sets up a potential second round matchup between the two schools, which would take place in Indianapolis next Sunday.
Illinois captured its conference tournament title in a thriller on Sunday, beating the Ohio State Buckeyes to claim the Big Ten crown for the first time since the 2005 season.
That season was a historic one for the Illini, as they reached the national championship game before falling to North Carolina in a heartbreaking defeat.
This time around, the Illini will hope to ride their strong starting lineup, headlined by guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn, and their excellent bench, led by Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Andre Curbelo. The Illini romp into the tournament on a high-note, with big-time road wins over Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State to wrap up the regular season and three straight wins to capture the conference tournament crown in their first finals appearance since 2008.
Illinois’ first round game will take place on Friday, with the time to be determined.
As for the Ramblers, all they did was win 17 of their final 18 games to wrap up the season, including wins over Southern Illinois, Indiana State and Drake to capture the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship last weekend.
This will be the Ramblers’ first NCAA appearance since they made the Final Four during the 2018 edition of the tournament, a remarkable run for the squad as they fell to Michigan just one game shy of a national title game appearance.
One of the best defensive teams in the country, Loyola will hope to continue that momentum into the tournament. Center Cameron Krutwig led the club in scoring this season with 15 points per game, and he also led the squad in rebounds (6.7) and assists (3) per game for good measure.
The game will take place on Friday, with the time to be determined.