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Introducing Cinderella: Loyola-Chicago earns first bid since 1985

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ConferenceMissouri Valley

CoachPorter Moser

Record28-5 (15-3 MVC)

Ratings and Rankings:

– Kenpom: 45
– RPI: 23
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding:  With the defections of Creighton and Wichita State, the Missouri Valley is a one-bid league for the foreseeable future, but it’s mostly well-regarded, despite the losses of the powerhouses, and the Ramblers cleared the field by four games. Their December win over Florida in Gainesville goes a ways, too. Right now, it looks like Loyola is headed to a 12, which will likely make them a trendy upset pick in plenty of brackets.

Names you need to knowClayton Custer started his career under Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State, but the Kansas City native transferred out after a freshman season in which he rarely saw the floor. Since then, he blossomed into the MVC player of the year during a senior season in which he averaged 13.7 points, 4.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range. Donte Ingram (11.4), Marques Townes (11.4), Aundre Jackson (11.0 and Cameron Krutwig (10.4) give the Ramblers five players averaging in double figures.

Stats you need to knowIf you don’t count CCNY, which dropped to Division III in 1963, Loyola has the fewest-ever NCAA tournament appearances for a program that owns a national championship. The Ramblers won the 1963 NCAA tournament, defeating Duke in the semifinals and Cincinnati in the title game, and made the field in three of the next five years before a 17-year hiatus and their return to the Big Dance in 1985, which was their last appearance.

Big wins, bad lossesThe win on the Gators’ home floor is unquestionably Loyola’s best, and it’s also the only KenPom top-100 win on their resume. Their only top-125 wins were their three against Northern Iowa, which tied for the second-worst record in the MVC. Their worst loss came just 10 days after beating Florida when they lost at Milwaukee, which ranks outside the top-200.

How’d they get here?Since a loss on the last day of January at Bradley, the Ramblers have reeled off 10-straight, including wins over UNI (54-50), Bradley (62-54) and Illinois State (XXXXX).

OutlookWith a veteran team (four of their top five players are upperclassmen) who shoots the lights out (40.1 percent outside the arc and 56.9 percent inside), Loyola has the profile of a team capable of winning a game – or two – should they get the right matchup and catch fire or at least shoot their average. If their opponent allows them to control the tempo, Loyola has a great shot at shortening the game and shooting their way into an upset.

How do I know you?Porter Moser is in his third stint as a head coach and second go-round in the MVC. He started at Arkansas-Little Rock before a four-year run at Illinois State from 2003-07. He then spent four years on the bench alongside Rick Majerus at St. Louis before getting another crack at the MVC with the Ramblers. He’s in his seventh season in Chicago and will be making his first-ever NCAA tournament appearance as a head coach.

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

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The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

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Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.

NCAA President Mark Emmert got a $500,000 raise in 2016

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NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.

That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.

But there’s not enough money to pay the players.

Nope.

Everyone is broke.

Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.