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Loyola-Chicago looks like a team of destiny in March Madness

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The Ramblers keep hitting clutch shots to advance through the bracket. Now they’re a win away from the Final Four.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Loyola vs Nevada Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Loyola-Chicago did it again. For the third straight game, the Ramblers hit a crunch-time dagger to win an NCAA tournament game. Nevada was the victim this time, falling to the Ramblers, 69-68, in the Sweet 16.

No. 11 Loyola is now one win away from the Final Four. It’s the first time the program has advanced to the Elite Eight since its national title winning season in 1963.

This time the hero for Loyola was junior wing Marques Townes, who hit a corner three off an assist from Clayton Custer with six seconds left to seal the victory.

The Ramblers needed the heroics after Nevada erased a 10-point deficit with 10 minutes left. Nevada had pulled off a 14-point comeback vs. Texas in the opening round and a historic 22-point comeback vs. Cincinnati in the round of 32. The Wolf Pack had no such luck against Loyola.

The Ramblers played perfect basketball for a stretch in the second half. Loyola hit its first 13 shots after halftime and played the first 10:49 of the half without missing a field goal. Loyola’s hot shooting would eventually start to fade, but the defense kept it afloat until Townes’ big shot.

Townes led the team with 18 points. Custer and senior forward Aundre Jackson each added 15 points. This is another shocking win for the Ramblers.

Loyola has now won three NCAA tournament games by a combined four points

The Ramblers beat Miami on a buzzer-beater from Donte Ingram. You’re going to want to watch that one again:

Loyola then topped Tennessee on a last-second shot from Custer. It took a miracle bounce for this shot to fall but it did:

Loyola’s crunch-time prowess is incredible. It’s starting to make them feel like a team of destiny.

Loyola’s run has been a study in how to build a March Madness Cinderella. Loyola won the Missouri Valley by four games in the conference’s first season without Wichita State. The Ramblers earned a marquee win when they beat top-five Florida on the road in December.

Loyola is no fluke. This is a legitimately good mid-major team with a star point guard in Custer, a group of solid three-and-D wings, and a skilled true freshman center in Cameron Krutwig.

Head coach Porter Moser has pulled all the right strings for Loyola. He went small against Nevada with no true big man on the floor, and used it to string together buckets at will to start the second half. The Ramblers’ defense was also remarkable, holding the No. 6 offense in the country to under 70 points.

Loyola now faces Kansas State in Elite Eight after the Wildcats’ equally surprising win over Kentucky. The Ramblers might actually be the favorite in that game. Loyola is two spots ahead of K-State on KenPom’s rankings.

The Ramblers haven’t stopped rolling yet. It might get them all the way to San Antonio.