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Rambling on: Loyola heads to first NCAA tourney in 33 years

Rambling on: Loyola heads to first NCAA tourney in 33 years

University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga shared two important messages as the Hurricanes boarded their bus Tuesday afternoon, headed to the airport to catch a flight to Dallas for the NCAA Tournament.

Stark is the player the Mountaineers could have the most trouble with, as he recorded 20-point performances in seven of his last eight games.

The Tar Heels got the last laugh against both, taking down Miami and Duke in back-to-back games-after beating Syracuse in the quarterfinals the Wednesday prior. ESPN gave Loyola-Chicago a 46.5 percent chance at an upset, and Las Vegas lists Miami as a two-point favorite.

Still, as the Hurricanes - who closed out the regular season with four straight wins - head into the tournament, they know it's not seedings or rankings that matter at this point. "But I have a second bracket, which I call the Cinderella dream bracket, where I have them going to the final game".

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"He's (Moser) been doing that all year, putting it in the bank, moving on to the next one", Loyola point guard Clayton Custer said.

The Ramblers rank 13th in rebounds allowed per game (30.7) while the Hurricanes rank 127th (34.2). This is Loyola's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years, so they definitely are ready to play and should be pumped up for this opportunity. That problem has crept up on WVU numerous times this season, most recently on Saturday in the Big 12 tournament title game against Kansas. In their tournament history, Loyola is 9-4.

It's surely worth noting that INCLUDING the win at Florida, Loyola's non-conference strength of schedule ranked #315 in the country. The Ramblers went on to win the conference tournament championship in a 65-49 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds. Beyond Thursday, first thing is we have to play well enough to win the game. But, in the end, the better talent sits with Miami. The Hurricanes now rank 325th in the NCAA with a free throw attempt (FTA) rate of 0.193, while Loyola Chicago ranks 15th in FTA rate allowed (0.176). Hurricanes games have no tendency in regards to the O/U total, as there has been an even split between games finishing over and under.

Sophomore Dewan Huell said the players have also noted that the Ramblers are becoming a popular sleeper team, and the Hurricanes plan to prove doubters wrong.