DALLAS — No. 6 seed Miami (22-9) vs. No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago (28-5)
First round, South Region; Thursday, 3:10 p.m. ET
BOTTOM LINE: Miami is making its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and is back in Texas for the first time since winning twice in Austin to make the Sweet 16 in 2013. Coach Jim Larranaga has six 20-win seasons in seven years with the Hurricanes. Loyola-Chicago won the Missouri Valley tournament for its first NCAA berth since 1985. The Ramblers, who won the 1963 national championship, take a 10-game winning streak into the first meeting between the programs.
BALANCING ACT: The Hurricanes don’t have a player in the top 25 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring, but all five starters have scoring averages within three points of each other. Lonnie Walker IV (11.5) and Dewan Huell (11.4) lead the way. Bruce Brown, who averaged 11.3 points, has been ruled out of the first two rounds by Larranaga after missing the past 11 games with a left foot injury that required surgery.
RAMBLIN’ MEN: Missouri Valley player of the year Clayton Custer drives the Ramblers as their leader in scoring average (13.4), assists and steals. He’s also shooting 44 percent from 3. Donte Ingram is the leading 3-pointer shooter (67 makes) and rebounder (6.5 per game). Marques Townes (11.2 ppg) was in the NCAA Tournament with Fairleigh Dickinson two years ago. Aundre Jackson (10.9 ppg) is from the Dallas area.
TIES THAT BIND: Larranaga was Loyola-Chicago athletic director Steve Watson’s coach at Bowling Green for two seasons from 1989-91. The Falcons lost in the first round of the NIT both seasons. “He could use some work defensively, but I believe he’s still playing today,” Larranaga said. “He plays in all those 3-on-3 events and kind of in the old man’s league now.”