Biggest NCAA Underdogs to Make Final Four: Loyola Chicago

Biggest NCAA Underdogs to Make Final Four: Loyola Chicago
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

With the men’s college basketball season under way, upsets seem to be happening night in and night out. Parity in the sport seems to still exist, even with NIL and the transfer portal. Unexpected victories are at the core of an individual’s fandom. On Saturday, we celebrate National Underdog Day.

IllinoisBet.com – your source for Illinois sports betting - looked at the biggest underdogs to ever make the Final Four. Utilizing SportsOddsHistory.com., we examined the odds of the Final Four competitors at the beginning of the tournament. The pool of entrants for this research is from 2010 until 2023. Here is what we found out:

Biggest Longshots to Make Final Four

RankTeam TournamentPre-Tournament Final Four Odds
1VCU2010-11+12500
2Loyola Chicago2017-18+7000
T-3Butler2010-11+6600
T-3Wichita State2012-13+6600
5UCLA2020-21+5000
6Syracuse2015-16+4000
7Florida Atlantic2022-23+3500
8South Carolina2016-17+2850
9UNC2021-22+2200
10Miami (Fl.)2022-23+2000

ESPN BET Illinois lists Purdue as the current national championship favorite at +900. Arizona and Kansas are tied for second at +1000.

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Who Can Forget Loyola’s Run?

One of the more remarkable Final Four runs to occur happened in 2017-18 with Loyola (Chicago). The Ramblers are second on our list at +7000. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2010-11 tops the list at a remarkable +12500.

Led by head coach Porter Moser, with spiritual help from superfan Sister Jean, the Ramblers won a remarkable 14 of their last 15 games of the season. Their run ended in heart-breaking fashion to eventual National Champion Michigan, 69-57, in the Final Four on March 31, 2018.

The run started after a two-point road loss to Bradley on Jan. 31 and then the magical two-month run commenced. They upended three teams to win the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament and receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as an 11th seed in the South Region.

Right off the bat, Loyola upset sixth-seeded Miami (Fla.) on a last second three-pointer and they upended third-seeded Tennessee to earn the earn the school's first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1985. They advanced to their first Final Four for the first time since 1963 with wins over Nevada (Sweet 16) and Kansas State (Elite Eight). 

Fast forward six years and where do the Ramblers stand thus far in the 2023-24 season?

Currently, Loyola (Chicago) holds a 6-4 record, winning four of their last five games. They now are members of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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Author

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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