The Illinois Fighting Illini, representing the top-seed in the Midwest region, blew out the 16th-seeded Drexel Dragons in the first round and will now play the 8th-seeded Loyola Chicago Ramblers. The Fighting Illini are currently on a seven-game winning streak, dating back to February 25th. The Ramblers took down ACC champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the opening round, but their focus will be on a massive upset this Sunday.
Fixture: Loyola Chicago Ramblers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini - March Madness 2021: Round of 32
Date & Time: Sunday, March 21, 2021, 12:10 PM ET
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Loyola Chicago Ramblers preview
The Loyola Chicago Ramblers passed their first test in March Madness 2021, securing an impressive 11-point victory over a talented Georgia Tech team. The Ramblers will now have their biggest challenge yet, upsetting the top-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Ramblers averaged 71.5 points per game this season, a whopping ten points less than the Illinois offense. The Ramblers must rely on defense, experience and pure momentum if they are going to make another Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Key player - Lucas Williamson
Loyola Chicago Ramblers' senior guard Lucas Williamson brought the hot hand to Indianapolis, tallying a game-high 21 points in his team's first-round victory. Williamson averaged just 8.6 points and four rebounds per game, but tallied a season-high in the biggest game of the season.
Lucas Williamson was part of the Ramblers' magical run to the Final Four in 2018, so he will be eager to return to the big stage. If Loyola Chicago is able to get their offense rolling early, it could be a problem for the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday.
Loyola Chicago Ramblers predicted lineup
F Aher Uguak, C Cameron Krutwig, G Keith Clemons, G Braden Norris, G Lucas Williamson
Illinois Fighting Illini preview
The Illinois Fighting Illini are looking like a Final Four contender, carrying a 24-6 overall record into this matchup. The Fighting Illini fell just short of a Big Ten regular-season title, but took the Big Ten Tournament championship and earned themselves top-seed in the Midwest.
Illinois' offense is led by star guard Ayo Dosunmu, but this is a well-balanced group with threats all over the floor. The Loyola Chicago Ramblers will need their best basketball and also some luck if they are going to shock the Illinois Fighting Illini in this second-round matchup.
Key player - Kofi Cockburn
While Ayo Dosunmu will undoubtedly be a big factor, Kofi Cockburn will need to provide a strong presence in the paint to give Illinois the edge on Sunday. Cockburn tallied a game-high 18 points on 73% shooting in the Fighting Illini's first-round matchup.
Kofi Cockburn will battle Cameron Krutwig and Aher Uguak of the Loyola Chicago Ramblers, making his contribution from the paint a huge factor. The Illinois Fighting Illini will be the favorites in this matchup, but they cannot afford to take the Ramblers lightly.
Illinois Fighting Illini predicted lineup
G Jacob Grandison, C Kofi Cockburn, G Trent Frazier, G Ayo Dosunmu, G Adam Miller
Loyola Chicago vs. Illinois prediction
The Loyola Chicago Ramblers will be the underdogs in this matchup, but they will have the support of many March Madness fans. The Ramblers have become a potential "Cinderella story" since their deep tournament run in 2018. The Illinois Fighting Illini will outmatch Loyola Chicago in nearly every spot on the floor, but they still need to play their game. Illinois will have the edge, but the power of momentum in the tournament is not to be understated.
Where to watch Loyola Chicago vs. Illinois
The game will be broadcast live on CBS.