March Madness 2012: Loyola's Path to March Madness

Mar 5, 2012; Springfield, MA, USA; Loyola Greyhounds head coach Jimmy Patsos (center) calls a timeout while his team celebrates against the Fairfield Stags during the second half of the finals of the 2012 Metro Atlantic Conference Tournament at the Mass Mutual Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Eight years after taking over a losing moribund program, Jimmy Patsos has Loyola in its first NCAA Tournament since 1994.

At this point, Jimmy Patsos might as well start calling himself the Earl of Baltimore. It's not like anyone would dispute him if he put in a claim. Eight years after Patsos coached the Greyhounds to a 6-22 season in his inaugural campaign (a mark that represented a five-win improvement on the previous year's 1-27 slog), the former assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland has led his team to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1994, and just the second in the school's history.

Patsos is known for his unconventional, unfiltered coaching style and his pressing defense, which he famously compared to the Black Panthers after his team defeated Fairfield 48-44 in the MAAC Tournament championship game March 5. The Greyhounds gave up just 63.8 points per game, second fewest in the MAAC, but they did most of their damage on the boards. Loyola out-rebounded their opponents by 3.7 rebounds per game, the largest differential in the MAAC, and also led the conference in offensive rebounds (13.3 per game).

Loyola's best player is junior Erik Etherly, who averaged 13.5 points per game (13th in MAAC) and 7.5 rebounds per game (good for 4th in the conference). He'll be sorely tested against the length of Jared Sullinger as the No. 15 seed Greyhounds take on the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes in the East Regional Round of 64 Thursday in Pittsburgh, Pa.

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