Loyola students celebrate win over top-seeded Illinois by storming street: ‘We kind of can take claim of Illinois now’

Illinois is the first No. 1 seed ousted from the tournament.

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Rambler fans gathered on Sheridan Road, near the Loyola stop on the CTA Red Line, to celebrate their team’s tournament win on Sunday.

Madeline Kenney/Chicago Sun-Times

After the final buzzer sounded Sunday on eighth-seeded Loyola’s 71-58 defensive stunner against top-seeded Illinois, coach Porter Moser and star Cameron Krutwig embraced.

Moments later, Loyola players waved up at Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the team’s beloved 101-year-old chaplain, who called the upset one day prior.

Meanwhile, back in Rogers Park, hundreds of Loyola students stormed Sheridan Road as the team clinched its second Sweet 16 berth in four years.

The throng of fans blocked traffic for a bit as they chanted “L-U-C” and danced in the street. The group was moved to the sidewalk near Fordham Hall, where the party continued for another hour. Cars honked as they drove by; some also waved Loyola flags outside their windows.

At one point, a man showered the crowd with a bottle of champagne.

One student described it as “one of the best moments” of their Loyola experience. Several others said they believe the Ramblers have what it takes to go all the way.

“If Illinois can’t beat them, nobody can,” sophomore Michael Kungl said.

“Birds are chirping, the beers are flowing, the grass is growing, the Loyola Ramblers are showing,” another student, Jeremy Hancock, said.

Maleah Ahuja, a senior, said Loyola has bragging rights as the best college basketball team in Illinois after beating their downstate rival.

“We kind of can take claim of Illinois now,” she said.

But not all fans were expecting Loyola to pull off the upset.

“Dude, I’m not going to lie, I was not ready for Loyola to win but we f- - - ing did it,” said Mac Stalloch, who is studying computer science. “That was the best, biggest upset of the century.” Illinois had a lot of good players ... but you can’t stop Krutwig. That man is a beast.”

Loyola of Chicago players celebrate after beating Illinois in a college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Sunday, March 21, 2021. Loyola upset Illinois 71-58.

Loyola of Chicago players celebrate after beating Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday. Loyola upset Illinois 71-58.

Associated Press

Loyola’s win busted a lot of March Madness brackets — not that anyone partying near campus cared.

“My bracket low-key got broken, but Loyola’s going all the way,” Stalloch said.

Many fans said they tuned in to the second-round matchup at home since reservations were scarce in the area.

Senior Ollie Connelly — who watched the game at his buddy Zach Coe’s apartment — said he was on “pins and needles the whole time.”

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up, even at halftime when we were up, it was just very surreal,” Connelly said. “It’s insane. You don’t go to Loyola thinking that you’re gonna be in the mix for a major sports title year after year, I guess it’s just unexpected, but we’re both huge sports fans so it’s... welcomed.”

“We were going nuts,” Coe said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of us in there, but I’m sure our downstairs neighbors were not too pleased with us jumping around and celebrating.”

Sister Jean celebrates the Loyola Ramblers’ win over Illinois in the NCAA basketball tournament second round at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 21, 2021.

Sister Jean celebrates the Loyola Ramblers’ win over Illinois in the NCAA basketball tournament second round at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday.

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Bulldog Ale House opened an hour early for the late morning tip-off and was at capacity within 30 minutes.

Bar manager Kyle Kramer said the vibe was intense yet exhilarating throughout the game. Though capacity was limited to 50%, Kramer compared the overall energy to that of Loyola’s Final Four run in 2018, saying “it’s deja vu.”

“It’s the first time in over a year we’ve had any sort of energy comparable to that,” Kramer said. “You couldn’t hear. We couldn’t do any to-go orders during the game because you can’t hear anybody on the phone.”

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Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

But fans believe this is just the beginning for Loyola, who will play the winner of the game between 12th-seeded Oregon State and fourth-seeded Oklahoma State.

“It might just be the Sweet 16, but we ain’t done yet,” said Teddy Delker, who called himself a “proud Loyola student.”

Here are some other fan reactions from Twitter, with emotions ranging from true joy to stunned heartbreak:

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