Sister Jean feeling good ahead of Loyola-Chicago’s game against top-seeded Illinois

INDIANAPOLIS — Sister Jean is taking some confidence from Ohio State.

Not the Buckeyes’ first-round game in the men’s NCAA tournament, of course. That wouldn’t inspire anything but angst and unhappiness this weekend. No, Loyola-Chicago’s 101-year-old team chaplain is thinking of last weekend's Big Ten tournament final, when the Buckeyes hung with top-seeded Illinois right to the very end.

“There are certain similarities of play to what we do well,” Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt said Saturday morning.

She wasn’t about to share what those were, though. With Loyola playing Illinois on Sunday, state bragging rights and a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line, Sister Jean wasn’t taking any chances of someone stealing her scouting report.

One thing she was willing to share? She thinks the Ramblers will beat Illinois, a trendy pick to reach the title game.

“I believe again we can do it. We’ll try our best and we’ll do our best,” Sister Jean said.  

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Despite their proximity, Sunday’s game is a rarity between Illinois and Loyola. They’ve only played 16 times, and they haven’t played since 2011, Loyola coach Porter Moser’s first season with the Ramblers.

But one of the meetings came in the 1963 tournament, when Loyola went on to win its only NCAA men’s title. Sister Jean doesn’t recall much of that game – “I didn’t have the TV until for the final game. So there was not that much watching the games except by reading about it. Sorry to disappoint you on that” – but she does remember watching the title game. A fellow nun’s brother-in-law gave them an 11-inch television so they could watch, and she said they huddled in front of it in a small room, watching the delayed broadcast of the game.

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