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Photos: Villanova beats Michigan in NCAA championship game

Villanova has its second national championship in three years after a 79-62 victory over Michigan.

NCAA Championship: Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo breaks Michigan's defense in national title win

Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to pour in 31 points to lead Villanova to a 79-62 win over Michigan in the 2018 National Championship Game and claim the game’s Most Outstanding Player award.

>> PHOTOS: Villanova beats Michigan in NCAA championship game

Michigan’s defense was its biggest strength. KenPom’s analytics ranked the Wolverines’ defense as third best in the country, but DiVincenzo split them up all night. Villanova brought home its second title in three years, and he’s a big reason why.

>> WATCH: Notre Dame wins NCAA women's championship on Arike Ogunbowale buzzer-beater

Donte DiVincenzo is usually solid on 3-pointers, but he was on fire in title game

DiVincenzo hit 5 of his 7 shots from beyond the arc. His teammates were 5 for 22. Michigan’s perimeter defense is one of the best in the country, but the Wolverines were no match for Villanova’s red-headed marksman.

DiVincenzo usually shoots a perfectly respectable 39 percent on threes. He was outstanding on Monday when it mattered most.

>> PHOTOS: Notre Dame defeats Mississippi State to win women’s basketball championship

Donte DiVincenzo’s hot shooting part of why Villanova surged past Michigan

The Wolverines were up as many as seven points over Villanova in the first half, and it looked like they’d have a shot at pulling off an upset over the favored Wildcats.

DiVincenzo’s 3-pointer in the second half is when we all knew Villanova had this game for sure.

But his 25th, 26th and 27th points were perhaps the biggest. DiVincenzo knocked down a 3 to make it 62-44 with under 8 minutes to go and virtually put the game and the national title away for the Wildcats.

Internet memes get mean with Sister Jean

It didn’t take long for some internet users to turn mean on Sister Jean.

>> Read more trending news

After the University of Loyola-Chicago’s fairy tale college basketball season ended Saturday with a loss in the Final Four, memes began to surface, mocking the team’s inspirational chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt.

The Crying Jordan memes popped online after No. 3 Michigan defeated Loyola-Chicago, 69-57. A head shot of Michael Jordan, with tears streaming down his face, was superimposed over the face of the 98-year-old nun, who has rooted for the Ramblers since the early 1960s.

Another meme showed a young boy faking out an elderly woman during a one-on-one basketball game. The boy drives to the basket as the woman tumbles to the ground.

#Michigan said bye bye to #SisterJean in the #FinalFour,” the meme read.

A third tweet showed a group of people tossing a wheelchair with a fake elderly woman strapped to it over a railing into a ravine.

It just goes to show that when it comes to the internet, nobody is off limits.

Loyola-Chicago gets blessing to market Sister Jean's name, image

The 98-year-old nun who serves as chaplain for the University of Loyola-Chicago basketball team has given her blessing to license and market her name and image, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the inspirational force behind the Ramblers’ unexpected run to the Final Four gave her approval to school officials to put her image on T-shirts, socks and even bobbleheads.

“We weren't going to do anything until she gave her blessing,” Tom Sorboro, a senior associate athletic director at the school, told ESPN.

"She didn't ask for anything for herself," including compensation, Sorboro said.

The school has approved more than 25 Sister Jean T-shirts from several companies. Fanatics has produced a Final Four shirt with the nun’s signature phrase, “Worship, Work and Win,” ESPN reported. The company has sold more Loyola products in the past 48 hours than it had during the rest of the season, Fanatics spokesman Meier Raivich told ESPN.

>> Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt: 5 things to know

The school gave away Sister Jean bobbleheads in 2011 and 2015. Loyola approved a new bobblehead, to be produced in June by the Milwaukee-based Bobblehead Hall of Fame. 

"Licensing rules prohibit the sale of bobbleheads of college players," Sklar told ESPN. "But Sister Jean's bobblehead really represents the entire team, school and the Loyola-Chicago community."

Rock 'Em Apparel was approved to license Sister Jean socks. It began selling them on its website on Sunday afternoon, ESPN reported.

"Usually it's an athlete or coach that captivates the attention of the sports world," said Steve Rollins, senior vice president for the company. "She brought Loyola's tournament run to the next level by letting the world see her passion for her team. Everyone wants to wear something with her image on it for good luck."

>> Coming soon: Another SIster Jean bobblehead

Licensing royalties for Sister Jean product, except for the bobblehead, are set up to support the Loyola Athletic Fund, which supports the funding of the program's athletes. The bobblehead splits the proceeds between the school's fund and Sister Jean's Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

That Sister Jean has become a sensation during the NCAA Tournament is an understatement. Media tracking company Apex Marketing Group said that there were 20,526 stories that mentioned Sister Jean, ESPN reported. By comparison, there were 5,681 stories that mentioned Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and 9,727 stories reference Kansas coach Bill Self. 

"Sister Jean has risen to the top of the sports world by becoming a must-see and must-mention for sports commentators and news organizations," Apex's Eric Smallwood told ESPN.

As the Ramblers prepare for Saturday’s Final Four game against Michigan in San Antonio, Sister Jean fever continues to rise.

"Sister Jean is the most famous religious licensing icon since the pope," Sorboro said. "She's captured the attention of the entire nation."

Coming soon: Another Sister Jean bobblehead

The basketball team at Loyola University Chicago has become the darling of the NCAA Tournament as it heads to the Final Four, and the story of team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt has been the heartwarming story of March Madness.

>> Read more trending news

Now, Sister Jean will be getting another bobblehead, the Bobblehead Hall of Fame announced.

Sister Jean is a 98-year-old nun who has rooted for the Ramblers for more than 50 years. The bobblehead will be officially licensed by the university and is expected to ship in June, the Bobblehead Hall announced.

>> Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt: 5 things to know

Sister Jean bobbleheads were produced by the school in 2011 and 2015, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The new one will add to the collection. Presale prices are $25, the Bobblehead Hall of Fame announced on its website. The Hall announced that proceeds from the sale of each bobblehead will benefit the Loyola Athletic Fund and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

NCAA Tournament 2018: Loyola, Michigan advance to Final Four

Michigan’s first Final Four appearance since 2013 will come against Loyola-Chicago, the feel-good story of the 2018 NCAA Tournament playing in its first Final Four in 55 years.

>> Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt: 5 things to know

The Wolverines (32-7) and Ramblers (32-5) advanced to the national semifinals next weekend in San Antonio with Elite Eight victories on Saturday. Missouri Valley Conference champion Loyola-Chicago continued its improbable run by beating Kansas State 78-62 in the South Regional final in Atlanta. Michigan won its 13th consecutive game against Florida State in the West Regional final in Los Angeles.

>> 'Gonzaga Grandma' celebration goes viral

Michigan entered the tournament as a No. 3 seed and has beaten No. 14 seed Montana, No. 6 seed Houston, No. 7 seed Texas A&M and No. 9 seed Florida State. It needed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Houston in the second round. Loyola has played nothing but close games in this tournament, but the No. 11 seed has found a way to win against No. 6 seed Miami, No. 3 seed Tennessee, No. 7 seed Nevada and No. 9 Kansas State.

The Ramblers have hit big shot after big shot with inspirational leader and team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt sitting courtside, winning their first three tournament games by a combined 4 points. Senior Donte Ingram made a 3-point shot from the top of the key at the buzzer to nip Miami 64-62. Redshirt junior Clayton Custer hit a jumper with 3.6 seconds left that proved to be the deciding shot in a 63-62 win against Tennessee. Junior guard Marques Townes gave his team a 4-point lead with a 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down with less than 7 seconds left against Nevada.

>> March Madness 2018: Michigan beats Houston, buzzer with last-second miracle by Jordan Poole

This is the first time Loyola-Chicago has been this deep into the tournament since it won the national championship in 1963. The Ramblers have won 14 games in a row and their season résumé includes a win at Florida. Five players are averaging in double figures, led by Custer (13.4 points per game). Ingram (11.3), Townes (11.2), Aundre Jackson (11.2) and Cameron Krutwig (10.4) also are part of Loyola’s balanced offense that will try to limit possessions in a game. The Ramblers are No. 67 in the country in the KenPom.com offensive efficiency rankings, but their 65.1 possessions per game rank No. 319.

Michigan and Loyola-Chicago have played three times previously but not since Feb. 1, 1969, when Loyola took a 112-100 win at old Chicago Stadium. Michigan won the first two meetings, including an 84-80 victory in the first round of the 1964 NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis.

The Wolverines have won 13 straight games since a 61-52 loss at Northwestern on Feb. 6. Loyola-Chicago’s style shouldn’t bother Michigan too much since the Wolverines average fewer possessions per game (64.7), but they have been far more efficient with the ball. The Wolverines rank No. 24 in offensive efficiency, averaging 116.1 points per 100 possessions.

>> Read more trending news 

Both teams rank in the top 25 of defensive efficiency, and they are in the top 10 in average points allowed. Michigan is giving up 63.3 points per game, No. 9 in the country, while Loyola-Chicago is No. 5 at 62.4 points per game.

The winner will advance to the national championship game on April 2.

Bet on NCAA long shot retrieves big payday for UMBC fans

Eric Barger figured he was throwing his money away when he and a group of friends bet on a No. 16 seed to upset a top-ranked team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But the group’s $800 bet on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County men’s basketball team paid off big when the Retrievers shocked No. 1 Virginia 74-54 on Friday.

>> Read more trending news

No. 16 seeds had been 0-for-135 against No. 1s, but UMBC’s win was lucrative for Barger and friends, who cashed a $16,800 winning ticket at The Venetian in Las Vegas, ESPN reported. 

"I go with my boys to Vegas every tournament, and we did pretty well on Thursday," Barger told ESPN. “Me and my buddy Dan went to UMBC, so we spent all day talking up how much we were going to bet.”

Barger said he did not think he had a winning ticket.

"We, of course, thought we were throwing our money down the drain," Barger, 42, told ESPN. “We expected to be down pretty quickly, but we hung in there, and they won by 20. It was surreal.”

Feeling lucky, Barger said he and his friends took $200 each out of their winnings and gambled it on a game of roulette. Their number hit, so they collected an additional $1,900, ESPN reported.

Barger said his group will bet on UMBC again in the Retrievers’ game Sunday night against Kansas State.

“With odds at about 5-to-1, we'll have at least a couple hundred on the game,” Barger told ESPN. “How could we not?"

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt:  5 things to know

It’s hard to call Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt an overnight sensation. After all, she’s been following basketball at Loyola University-Chicago for more than a half century and said she saw the Ramblers win the NCAA title in 1963. But thanks to television, the internet and social media, the 98-year-old nun has become a media darling.

>> Read more trending news

With victories against Miami and Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, the Ramblers are hoping for more spiritual guidance when they face the winner of the Cincinnati-Nevada game in next week’s Sweet 16.

Here are some things you might not have known about Loyola-Chicago’s inspirational leader.

Praying for victory: As the basketball team’s chaplain since 1994, Sister Jean begins every prayer the same way: “Good and gracious God.” But if you’re thinking she does not invoke the deity for a little help to win, think again. “I ask God to be especially good to Loyola so that, at the end of the game, the scoreboard indicates a big ‘W’ for us,” she told The New York Times. She ends every prayer with an emphatic “Go Ramblers.” Judging from some of the shots Loyola-Chicago has been burying during this tournament -- Clayton Custer’s game-winner against Tennessee comes to mind -- these prayers have been answered so far.

She’s a Hall of Famer: Loyola-Chicago inducted Sister Jean into the athletic department’s Hall of Fame in 2017, making her the 173rd member to be enshrined. Born in San Francisco in 1919, Sister Jean played basketball in high school.

Good scouting: Every season, Sister Jean researches the boxscores of upcoming opponents, using her sharp eye for detail to point out flaws in the Ramblers’ next foe. Coach Porter Moser found a manila folder on his desk on his first day as coach, according to NCAA.com. Sister Jean had compiled a scouting report on the Ramblers to help the new coach.

“She lights up every room she goes into.” Moser told the Times. “She’s always smiling. She has an energy about herself. I connect with that.”

She has her own bobblehead: Loyola-Chicago held a bobblehead promotion night for Sister Jean in 2011.

Super sneakers: Sister Jean has a pair of maroon-and-gold Nike sneakers that she wears during each game. Two names are stitched on the sneaker’s heels: “Sister” on the left heel, and “Jean” on the right.

It’s been quite a ride for Loyola-Chicago, which has knocked off two highly touted program. Now, the Ramblers will have to go against Sister Jean in the Sweet 16: She picked the Ramblers to lose in that round.

March Madness 2018: Michigan beats Houston, buzzer with last-second miracle by Jordan Poole

The game between Michigan and Houston on Saturday night was an absolute battle.

>> NCAA Men’s tournament 2018: Time, channel, odds for March Madness

Neither offense could get going, as the Wolverines shot 35 percent from the field, while the Cougars shot 37 percent. With less than four seconds remaining, Michigan trailed 63-61 with the ball.

Then, the magic happened. You’ve seen this already, but that’s OK. It’s worth seeing again.

>> Click here to watch

Freshman Jordan Poole nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to send the Wolverines to the Sweet 16. It was Poole’s second made 3-pointer of the game as he finished with 8 points.

>> Read more trending news 

Michigan as a team shot 8-of-30 from behind the arc on the night. Houston missed two free throws on the other end of the court to lead to Poole’s game-winner.

Michigan will face the winner of North Carolina-Texas A&M.

Little Caesars honoring bracket-busting win with free pizza

If you’re crying in your beer after the University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the ultimate bracket buster in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, take heart. There is a free pizza waiting to ease your sorrow.

Little Caesars is honoring UMBC’s 74-54 victory against Virginia -- the first time a No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed -- with a free lunch combo on Monday, April 2.

The $5 Hot-N-Ready Lunch Combo will include four slices of pepperoni pizza and one 20-ounce Pepsi product per family, the company said in its promotional release. Orders must be made between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time. An important point: the order must be placed by 1 p.m. The rules in the promotion state that even if you were in line at 1 p.m., if the order has not been placed it will not be honored. In other words, arrive early. 

Here are the details of the deal. You can read the full terms and conditions here.

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