Yesterday we ran a piece by Adam Doster on the barren Chicago college hoops landscape and how the Loyola Ramblers, before most people had started to notice, broke out of it. Their stars are best friends from Overland Park, Kansas, but as Doster wrote, they're trying to hang on to the local stars who usually don't stick around their great high-school-hoops city:
Four other ball-handling Ramblers average in double figures. A good chunk of those teammates are local, which is intentional; Moser deemed it important to reconnect Loyola to Chicago’s robust pipeline, one that other area schools had not yet pilfered. There’s senior wing Donte Ingram (Simeon), the team’s most reliable defensive rebounder.
Today, this happened.
As a 6'6" forward, Ingram grabs a respectable 6.5 rebounds a game, but he's got range: he hit five three-pointers in eight attempts against SIU and went 67-168 on the year for an also respectable 39.9 percent on the season. But it was a dropoff from last year, when Ingram was elite: his 45.8 percent accuracy from behind the arc put him at 37th in the nation. He's kept his skill set from when he was a young Wolverine, lighting up the Chicago Hoops Classic from downtown.
The 11-seed pulled off the upset, but the Ramblers are only a borderline Cinderella team. The KenPom advanced rankings have them as the 40th-best team in the country—just two slots behind the Miami team they dispatched. A different look is Will Fein's Localized Upset Classification model (LUC… hmm), which has done a good job with the most fun problem in sports prediction: picking the first-game March Madness upsets. He put the Loyola-Miami matchup as the fourth-most-likely upset of this year's first round. ESPN's BPI gave Loyola a 43 percent chance—the most likely upset of the first round.
So now Loyola's moving on in their first tournament since 1985. And they did it at the hand of Donte Ingram, their first Simeon player since 1986.