SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Latest on the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
The Final Four is underway with Michigan winning the opening tip in the first semifinal game against Loyola-Chicago.
This isn’t the first NCAA Tournament matchup between the Wolverines and Sister Jean’s Ramblers.
In 1964, Michigan won a second-round NCAA Tournament game 84-80 over Loyola, then the defending national champions. The Wolverines made it to their first Final Four that season.
That 1963 title was the only previous Final Four appearance for the Ramblers, who this season were the No. 11 seed in the South Region.
The national anthem was performed by a group of four students — one from each school playing in the Final Four.
After the lights went down in the Alamodome, those students were under a spotlight on one side of the court, with images of the American flag displayed around them.
Loyola Ramblers superfan Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt has prime seats to watch her team play in the Final Four.
The 98-year-old nun who sends the players notes of encouragement, writes scouting reports of upcoming opponents and serves as chaplain drew applause and gawkers as she arrived courtside on Saturday about an hour before the first semifinal. The 11th seeded Ramblers are playing No. 3 seed Michigan for a spot in the NCAA title game.
She was presented with a team jacket with her name emblazoned on it by coach Porter Moser before the game, and also briefly met Hall of Famer Bill Walton as she was heading into the arena.
The starting lineups are set for the first national semifinal — and it’s all the same for Michigan and No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago
Both teams have the same five starters they’ve used their previous four NCAA Tournament games — and for most of the season.
The starting five for the Wolverines, the home team, are guards Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and forwards Moe Wagner and Isaiah Livers.
Loyola’s starters are guards Clayton Custer, Ben Richardson and Marques Townes, forward Donte Ingram and freshman center Cameron Krutwig.
Malik Newman’s year of work has paid off with a trip to the Final Four.
Newman sat out last year at Kansas and worked behind the scenes as a transfer after leaving Mississippi State following his freshman season. He has come up with big performances in recent games, including scoring 13 of his 32 points in overtime of last weekend’s Elite Eight win against Duke.
Newman says coach Bill Self stayed on him about becoming “a better point guard, a better player, a better leader.”
The 6-foot-3 sophomore says he “should have come here straight out of high school” and called the transfer “definitely the best decision that I made.”
The top-seeded Jayhawks play Villanova on Saturday night for a spot in the final.
When Michigan and Loyola-Chicago meet in the Final Four on Saturday night, one team will soon suffer its first loss in a long time.
The Wolverines have won 13 straight games since losing at Northwestern on Feb. 6. Michigan shot 50 percent in the first half and led 32-29 in that game, only to make only 5 of 20 shots and score 20 points after halftime in the 61-52 loss.
As for the Ramblers, they have won 14 straight since falling at Bradley 69-67 on Jan. 31.
Both teams advanced deeper into March Madness because of last-moment shots in earlier rounds.
Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill are among the 13-member class that will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
The Hall of Fame made the announcement Saturday before the NCAA Final Four semifinals.
The inductees also include Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Tina Thompson, coach Lefty Driesell, Charlie Scott, longtime executive Rick Welts, NBA executive Rod Thorn, Katie Smith, the late Ora Mae Washington and Croatian star Dino Radja.
Nash and Kidd were two of the greatest point guards of their generation. Nash is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and eight-time All-Sta. Kidd earned 10 All-Star selections.
Hill won two NCAA titles at Duke and seven NBA All-Star selections. Allen is the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history and a two-time league champion.
It’s been an almost all-or-nothing thing for Villanova and Jay Wright when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats reached the Final Four in 2009 before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina, then failed to get out of the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend 7/8for another six years. That included a loss to North Carolina State as a 1-seed in 2015.
Villanova finally made its push a year later, beating Kansas in a regional final then beating UNC on Kris Jenkins’ walk-off 3-pointer for the national title.
But last year, Villanova lost as a 1-seed in the opening weekend again against Wisconsin.
This time, the Wildcats arrived at the Final Four as the highest remaining seed in the tournament.
Villanova plays Kansas on Saturday night in the second semifinal.
Loyola-Chicago had to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship to secure its spot in the NCAA Tournament then made a run as an 11-seed.
Yet Michigan coach John Beilein sounds like he thinks the Ramblers might have been good enough to win a title in one of the power conferences.
Loyola and Michigan play Saturday night in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
Loyola-Chicago is only the fourth No. 11 seed to reach the national semifinals. Beilein says he thinks the Ramblers could’ve been seeded anywhere from No. 4 to No. 7 had they been in a bigger conference.
Beilein says he isn’t saying the seeding was wrong, but that “it’s an inexact science to try and figure out.”
It’s game day at the Final Four in San Antonio.
Saturday night features two NCAA Tournament semifinals at the Alamodome. The first is West Region champion and third-seeded Michigan against South Region champion and 11-seed Loyola-Chicago. Both teams have had wins during this tournament with last-moment shots.
The second is a battle of No. 1 seeds between East champion Villanova and Midwest champion Kansas. They’ve both played at a high level all year and entered March Madness as popular picks to win it all.
All four teams are past national champions. The Wildcats are pursuing a second national title in three seasons. The Jayhawks are trying for their first title since winning one in San Antonio in 2008.
Michigan won the title in 1989, while Loyola-Chicago won it in 1963.
The winners of the games Saturday will meet Monday night for the title.
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