Loyola University Chicago hadn’t even been to an NCAA men’s basketball tournament since 1985, 22 years after its lone championship, so it’s little surprise it entered this year’s iteration of March Madness facing long odds — 250 to 1.
That is, a $10 flyer on a Rambler title before the tournament kicked off would leave a wagerer two Loyola wins away from collecting $2,500 plus his or her initial $10. Not the worst in the tournament, with even such traditional basketball powers as UCLA, at 300-to-1, and North Carolina State, at 1,000-1, facing longer odds. Loyola, after all, has only lost five times all season, against, now, 32 wins. It hasn’t lost a game since January.
Entering Saturday’s game with the University of Michigan — which, the New York Post reports, is embracing a villain role against Cinderella and media darling Loyola — after having eliminated the University of Miami, the University of Tennessee, the University of Nevada and Kansas State University, Loyola has drastically cuts its title odds down to 10-1. Michigan is at 9-4. It started the tournament at 14-1.
Michigan is favored by five points over Loyola.
In Saturday’s other fixture, Villanova University, the top overall Las Vegas pick coming into the tournament at 6-1, faces the University of Kansas, which was 10-1 in the immediate aftermath of Selection Sunday. Villanova is now all the way down to 5-6 odds. KU is at 3-1.
Villanova is favored by 5 to 5½ points.