By Danny White ´22
The Loyola Ramblers went to the NCAA tournament once again this year. The Ramblers have made it to the tournament three times in the past five years.
Their most notable appearance was in 2018, when they were an 11 seed that journeyed all the way to the final four, leaving the entire country wondering, ¨Who even are these guys?¨
Thanks to their memorable run in 2018, the Ramblers are well known when March rolls around every year now. Out of the millions of brackets created in 2018, only 5,532 people had the Ramblers making it to the final four.
This year, the Ramblers were the third most popular picked upset at 48.5%. Yes, their success from 2018 did boost this percentage up, but the team had a tremendous year.
The Ramblers started 4-0, handling their business against inferior teams, scoring over 80 points in all those games. They then dropped two straight close ones against the nation’s best in Auburn and Michigan State.
After that short losing stint, they won 10 straight. A key contributor in those ten games was Brother Rice´s own Marquise Kennedy. He played over 20 minutes in all of those games, averaging 8.9 points. He also had 14, 15, and 16 point games along the way.
Marquise did not only affect the game in the points column in that stretch though. Marquise was a top defender on the team, often guarding the opponent’s best playmaker. He averaged 1 steal a game while ending up with 28 on the season.
Although the Ramblers probably would have made the NCAA tournament without the automatic bid given by winning their conference, they still did it anyway. In those three games the Ramblers looked extremely polished. Battling injuries, Marquise still gave high quality minutes once again, averaging 9 points and 2 assists per game.
Then came the big dance, the place where all the previous 30 games are thrown out the window. It’s a whole new season where anything can happen. Just ask Kentucky…
The Ramblers´ matchup was the 7 seed Ohio State Buckeyes, who came into the tournament being one of the coldest teams in the nation. And so it continued, but the Ramblers were even colder.
The game felt like whoever played worse lost. The Buckeyes shot a whopping 6% from the perimeter and the Ramblers scored 32 points less than their season average. The Ramblers´ season came to end as they lost a grubby game 54-41.
Marquise will most likely return for his senior year campaign with the Ramblers.