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America wants Sister Jean and Loyola to win: Michigan versus the strangest March Madness storyline

We try to figure out what’s going on

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

Who’s the coach of Loyola-Chicago?

Can you name one player from Loyola-Chicago?

Most of you probably couldn’t provide one name in response to my query. That’s okay.

Who’s the happy old lady in the wheelchair that’s at all the Loyola-Chicago games?

I bet almost all of you know the answer to that question. SISTER JEAN.

The star of the underdog Loyola-Chicago Ramblers isn’t even a player, or a coach, it’s a 98 year old team chaplain.

With last second wins in the tournament over Miami, Tennessee, and Nevada, Loyola has become the “Cinderella Story” fans yearn for dearly. The recipe wouldn’t have been of national intrigue with last second wins alone, the secret ingredient has been Sister Jean. She’s fired up the masses.

I was at the dentist yesterday.

“Who do you want to win? Loyola or Michigan” I hear the doctor ask a patient.

“Michigan all the way,” the patient responds.

The doctor gasps and goes “Nooooo,” in utter disappointment, shocked anyone could root against Sister Jean and this Loyola storyline.

This rooting for Sister Jean thing isn’t confined to a dentist office, she’s become a brand name. She has licensed shirts, and even a best selling bobblehead.

What the hell is going on? I WANT TO KNOW. How did this happen?

Some things can’t be explained precisely, some things just happen and take on a life of their own, and it appears that’s what has happened in regards to the stardom of Sister Jean.

Dick Vitale is all aboard the Sister Jean bandwagon.

“Meeting her is one of my bucket-list things,’’ Vitale said. “People at Loyola-Chicago need to get me over to Sister Jean. You’ve got to get that done for me. I want a photo with her.’’

Vitale went on to say what this article’s point is all about... it’s Michigan versus the nation.

“All the fans I visited with were saying, ‘We hope Loyola can shock Michigan,’ they’re America’s darlings.’’

America’s darlings indeed. But why?

An 11-seed team isn’t exactly a Cinderella story, these kids can ball out on any given night.

Loyola can thank themselves and their coaches for getting to the Final Four, but when it comes to why the masses are wanting to tune in to the game on Saturday? If Sister Jean wasn’t in the equation, the intrigue would be significantly less.

That’s strange. Not in a bad way, just in a way that gives you a chuckle.

A lot of casual fans won’t remember who even won this tournament years from now, but they’ll remember Sister Jean, and because of her, they’ll remember Loyola.

A 98 year old lady hasn’t received this much attention since ‘The Titanic’.

Maybe part of the intrigue is religion based, with a sizable chunk of the country being Christian/Catholic, and Loyola being a Catholic school, and Sister Jean being a chaplain, all of it makes Loyola easy to root for because although it isn’t their team, it’s their team.

That element has made the Loyola story, and this matchup all the more intriguing and strange. The narrative is it’s destiny for Loyola and Sister Jean, God is on their side.

“I told a friend of mine in Detroit, tell your Wolverines, it’s pretty hard to go up against God, man,” Vitale said.

Unless someone has talked to God and they’ve found out who he’s taking on Saturday, let’s leave that part up for debate, Dick.

I’ve been around a lot of teams pre-game activities, and from college sports to the NFL, there’s usually a pastor or priest close by to offer prayer and guidance for coaches and players.

All teams are trying to hit up the God hotline for good favor, good vibes. And there’s really no major difference between Loyola and Michigan in this regard. Jim Harbaugh met the Pope for goodness sake.

This is all in good fun, Sister Jean knows it. When asked what she gave up for Lent, this was her response.

With responses like that, no wonder people want a damn bobblehead of her. Frat bros and Catholics have a new hero alike, her name is Sister Jean, she doesn’t wear a cape, just a scarf.

A lot of different pieces had to come together to make this the strangest March Madness storyline I’ve ever seen, but boy did the pieces come together.

What if I told you two months ago “So, the Final Four will feature a 98 year old woman who is the face of a university and will be a major reason as to why most of America will be rooting for this team to win it all.”

I’d imagine you would have laughed at me and thought that was a crazy thing to say. Well, crazy things happen and truth can be stranger than fiction.

Expect the ratings for the Michigan-Loyola game to be high, expect to be around a bunch of Loyola supporters if you don’t live in the state of Michigan and choose to watch the game at a sports bar.

Strange times, but normal would be boring.