LOS ANGELES — So you’re minding your own business in San Antonio, Isaiah Livers, and Sister Jean sidles up with her entourage, because that’s just how she rolls.
What do you say?
“Sister Jean, your team is awesome,” Michigan’s effusive freshman forward told Land of 10 after the Wolverines punched their ticket to the Final Four, where they’ll meet Sister Jean’s Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in one NCAA Tournament semifinal.
“You’re an awesome person. Can we take a picture?”
“I would take a picture with Sister Jean,” Livers said with a grin. “For sure.”
At this point, who wouldn’t?
Sister Dolores Jean Schmidt, the 98-year-old team nun and chaplain for Loyola-Chicago, is The Fairy Godmother — and face — of the 2018 NCAA tourney, the wind beneath Cinderella’s wings.
The champions of the Missouri Valley Conference — the league that once brought you Wichita State and Creighton, at least before the Shockers and Jays bolted for the American and Big East, respectively — are the fourth No. 11 seed to reach a Final Four and the first to turn that trick since VCU in 2011.
The Ramblers (32-5) punched their ticket to San Antonio as South Regional champions with a 78-62 stomping of ninth-seeded Kansas State early Saturday evening. The region turned out to be the most chaotic of a wild 2018 Big Dance, with its top seed, Virginia, suffering a historic first-round defeat at the hands of UMBC, while the No. 2 seed, Cincinnati, was upset by Nevada in the second round, blowing a 22-point second-half lead.
Loyola knocked off No. 3 seed Tennessee 63-62 in the second round, then eliminated the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack 69-68 to reach the Elite Eight.
With each successive stunner, the Ramblers — who hadn’t played in an NCAA tourney since 1985 and hadn’t reached a Final Four since 1963, when the little school from Chicago’s North Side won the whole thing — became national cult heroes.
And Sister Jean?
Sister Jean became a freaking rock star. Why wouldn’t a guy want a quick selfie for posterity?
Loyola's Sister Jean's official shoes and bobble head. pic.twitter.com/gnFdnj8Y9s
— Megawatt Herb Drench (@mdrache) March 15, 2018
Sister Jean: "Really, if I could correct you. International. Because they told me I’m appearing in Mexico and in Great Britain." pic.twitter.com/ctTeR25eeg
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) March 19, 2018
Dude, you do not mess with a 98-year-old nun.
“Sister Jean? Sister Jean’s a problem,” Livers laughed after Michigan (32-7) dispatched Florida State 58-54 to win the West Regional.
“She’s got a lot of mojo going through that team. So we’re … basically going up against Loyola of Chicago and Sister Jean. So that’s going to be a tough one. Respect to her.”