|School Name:||Loyola University Chicago|
|Arena:||Joseph J. Gentile Center|
|Conference:||Missouri Valley Conference|
|Head coach:||Porter Moser|
Loyola University Chicago is a private co-educational religious-affiliated university established in Chicago in 1870 as Saint Ignatius College. It was founded by the Roman Catholic religious order of the Society of Jesus and bears the name of the Jesuit patron, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Loyola is one of twenty-eight member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and, with its current enrollment of more than 15,000 students, is one of the largest Jesuit Universities in the United States.
The Loyola Ramblers compete in the Missouri Valley Conference of the NCAA's Division I. The Men's Volleyball team competes in the NCAA's Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with schools such as Ball State and Ohio State, and is considered a national power with regular Top 15 rankings. Loyola University boasts men's and women's teams in basketball, cross country, track, golf, soccer, and volleyball, as well as women's softball. The Loyola Ramblers title originated in the late 1920s as a nickname given to the school's football team. Today, Loyola University no longer has a football team. The standing joke is that the team is undefeated since 1930. Outside of the NCAA regulated athletics programs, Loyola Ramblers also compete in non-traditional intercollegiate sports such as cricket and rugby.
The Loyola Ramblers mascot is Lou Wolf. Lou Wolf was inspired by the Basque coat-of-arms of Saint Ignatius of Loyola depicting two wolves over a kettle. The popular mascot, which had become a Chicago institution through several generations, received a facelift over the summer of 2000. Originally the Loyola mascot was a Gypsy Rambler, but many were upset over its racist depiction.
The 1963 NCAA Championship and the obstacles faced on the team's road to victory in a racially segregated country put Loyola in the national spotlight. Before the championship, there was a "gentlemen's agreement" among college teams limiting how many black players could play during a game. Beginning in 1961, Loyola head coach George Ireland broke that agreement by putting as many as four black players on the court at every game. In 1962-63, Ireland played four black starters in every game. In a game in Oklahoma City against Wyoming, Ireland replaced fouled-out starter John Egan with Pablo Robertson (even with two white players available on his bench), marking the first time an NCAA Division I college team fielded five black players.
After winning its first round NCAA tournament game on March 11, 1963 against Tennessee Tech, the Loyola Ramblers were scheduled to play in the second round against Mississippi State, which practiced racial segregation. Mississippi Governor Ross R. Barnett banned the Mississippi school from traveling to the tournament to play against Loyola's black players. Sending a decoy team to divert state police, the Mississippi State team successfully sneaked out of the state to play the Ramblers. Loyola won and went on to beat Illinois in its regional final and Duke in the national semifinals. At the NCAA Final, newspapers reported that the Ramblers didn't have a chance against Cincinnati, the two-time defending national champions. In one of the closest games of the season, Loyola became the third Jesuit University (Holy Cross won in 1947 and San Francisco won twice in the 1950s) to ever win the NCAA Tournament. Loyola remains the only school in Chicago, and in the state of Illinois, to do so.
The Ramblers made three more NCAA tournaments in the 1960s (1964, 1966, 1968), but then went without an NCAA bid until 1985. This proved the prelude to an even longer tournament drought—their next appearance would not come until 2018.
Going into the 2017–18 season, the Ramblers were picked by MVC media to finish third in the conference. They nonetheless made their best start to the season in over 50 years, going 10–1 before losing their final nonconference game. This run was highlighted by a 65–59 win at then-#5 Florida, the Ramblers' first win over a top-5 team since 1984. They went on to win the MVC regular-season title outright, their first regular-season title ever in the MVC and in any conference since 1987, and also won the MVC tournament. This proved merely the prelude to an astonishing NCAA tournament run.
The Ramblers, seeded 11th in the South Region, won their first three tournament games over Miami, Tennessee, and Nevada—all ranked in the final AP Poll before the NCAA tournament—by a total of 4 points. They had much less difficulty in their regional final against Kansas State, winning 78–62 to punch their first Final Four ticket since 1963. During the tournament run, the Ramblers' team chaplain, then-98-year-old nun Sister Jean, became an international media celebrity. Their run ended in the national semifinals with a 69–57 loss to Michigan.