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New book honors ’63 champs

On March 23, 1963, the Loyola University Chicago men’s basketball team achieved its greatest moment when it rallied from a 15-point, second-half deficit to defeat two-time defending champion Cincinnati, 60-58 in overtime, in the NCAA Championship game. In a new book written by Tom Hager titled The Ultimate Book of March Madness, the Ramblers’s win over Cincinnati was named the No. 1 game in NCAA Tournament history, edging North Carolina State’s upset of Houston in the 1983 NCAA Championship game.

Hager’s book reveals all of the greatest untold stories from March Madness, from its inception in 1939 through the present. Each chapter in the book’s first section chronicles each school’s journey to the NCAA Championship. The second section of the book covers the 100 greatest games in NCAA Tournament history, of which Loyola’s 1963 victory over Cincinnati earned the top spot.

Led by a starting five dubbed the “Iron Men” that played the entire game, Loyola captured its first-ever NCAA Championship when forward Vic Rouse’s tip-in fell through the net as the buzzer sounded in overtime to give the Ramblers a 60-58 victory over Cincinnati at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky.

Les Hunter finished with a team-high 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Loyola, which also received 15 points and 12 boards from Rouse, and 14 points from two-time All-American Jerry Harkness.

A program that had a profound effect on college basketball, Loyola was the first team to start four African-Americans. In the 1963 NCAA Regional Semifinal round, the Ramblers faced a Mississippi State (MSU) squad that had previously been unable to play against integrated teams in postseason competition due to an unwritten state law. However, MSU was able to sneak out of town before an injunction could be served by Gov. Ross Barnett, and Loyola and Mississippi State played a game, in which the Ramblers prevailed, 61-51, that later became known as “The Game of Change.”

To this day, Loyola remains the only school in the state of Illinois to have won the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

The Ultimate Book of March Madness can be purchased online here.

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