Rambler-Mania hits Loyola Bookstore ahead of Sweet 16 game against Oregon State

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Loyola bookstore was packed on a Friday afternoon, but many there were not buying books.

As the Loyola Ramblers head into their Sweet 16 game Saturday afternoon in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, fans are making sure they are appropriately outfitted for watching the game.

"I gotta get my gear for tomorrow. We're gonna win," said Peggy Maher, a Loyola alum.

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It is a bonanza for the bookstore. With relatively few students on campus because of COVID-19, Loyola's basketball success is bringing out Rambler pride in students and alumni as many buy t-shirts, scarves and gifts.

Roe McFarlane, President of Follett Higher Education Group said what's most popular is, "Sister Jean anything. Sister Jean is timeless."

Many Loyola faithful like to believe the 101-year-old nun is not only their good luck charm but also their connection to some help from a higher power.

However, Loyola's director of Catholic studies, Michael Murphy. said that's not necessarily part of the Catholic school's teachings.

"God doesn't play favorites. That doesn't match any theology worth its salt," Murphy said.

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In fact, if God did play favorites he'd have a tough time this weekend since Loyola is one of six of the Sweet 16 schools with a religious affiliation: Loyola, Gonzaga, Creighton, Baylor, Villanova, and Oral Roberts. That's why Sister Jean's pre-game prayers usually center on players performing their best, rather than just winning.

"She prays the team plays well, follows the game plan, no one gets hurt," said Murphy.

In the meantime, the bookstore is already planning for a Loyola win Saturday. They will expand into a vacant space next door for the next round.

Loyola Chicago will play Oregon State at 1:40 p.m. CT Saturday.
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