Loyola Ramblers National Title, Civil Rights accomplishments chronicled by new book

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The newly minted Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope ever. Perfect time to highlight the accomplishments of a Jesuit school in Loyola. Quick what’s the only Illinois team to win it all in college basketball? It’s the 1963 Loyola Ramblers. The Illini reached the title game in 2005 and have made five Final Fours but never cut down the nets. DePaul has two Final Fours to their credit, but no titles.

Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963—The Team that Changed the Color of College Basketball, by Michael Lenehan. Ramblers is the dramatic, deeply engrossing, and meticulously researched story behind the 1963 NCAA basketball tournament, which featured seven African-American starters in the championship game. With the 50th anniversary of the Loyola Ramblers’ championship victory just around the corner, this is an important story that needs to be told. March Madness is the perfect time to reflect on sports and politics Civil Rights era. This team predates the famous Texas Western championship unit featured in the popular film “Glory Road” by three years.

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Loyola Ramblers Always Seem to Give Butler Bulldogs FITS!

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In the modern era of college basketball, only one school in the state of Illinois boasts a national title. Guess which one.

The Illinois Fighting Illini? Sadly no, but they probably are the strongest program in the nation never to have cut down the nets. DePaul was great in the ’80s, how about the Blue Demons?

Nope, it’s actually the Loyola Ramblers, vintage 1963.

The Ramblers also went to the sweet sixteen in 1985. Unfortunately, they haven’t been back to the dance since then. But there is one team with which every game has a March type atmosphere. That would be last year’s national runner-up, the Ramblers’ Horizon League rival Butler Bulldogs.

In Wednesday night’s conference opener for both teams, the Butler-Loyola rivalry saw another nail-biter, as the Bulldogs handed LUC their first loss of the season 65-63 at the Gentile Center. Last year, when BU made their historical Final Four run, Loyola lost 48-47. I guess you could call both these games “moral victories.”

By Paul M. Banks

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