March Madness is over for the No. 1 seed Illinois, as they lost to the No. 8 seed Loyola-Chicago 71-58, on March 21.
A favourite to reach the Final Four, Illinois is the first top-seed bumped out of this year’s NCAA men’s tournament. It was the earliest exit for a region’s top seed since 2018.
The Fighting Illini are the Ramblers’ latest victim, who beat Georgia Tech on March 19.
Loyola-Chicago apparently likes the upsets. This is their fifth win over a higher seed in the last three NCAA tournaments. They made the Final Four in 2018 as a No. 11 seed.
The Ramblers capitalized on steals and turnovers and held the lead for the entire game. Arguably their best player was Cameron Krutwig. Illinois couldn’t handle his craftiness and passing ability. Krutwig finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
“We tried everything in the bag,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “Everything that’s made us one of the most efficient offensive teams today, just for whatever reason didn’t work. … You can’t turn it over 17 times in an NCAA Tournament game against a good team and expect to win and turnovers were the undoing.”
Illinois shot 45 percent from the field, turned the ball over 17 times and made 4-of-14 three-point shots.
The Fighting Illini’s First Team All-American Ayo Dosunmu scored only nine points and he struggled with six turnovers. Kofi Cockburn had 21 points and nine rebounds while freshman guard Andre Curbelo had nine points, seven assists, and three turnovers.
Loyola-Chicago is on to the round of 16 and plays Oregon State on March 28.
Oregon State advanced to the Sweet 16 when they beat the No. 4 seed Oklahoma State 80-70 on March 21. This is Oregon State’s first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1982.
SOURCES: 247SPORTS.COM, ESPN.COM, NYTIMES.COM, OREGONLIVE.COM