March Madness is about to take another meaning in the state of Illinois.
With their respective wins Friday, Illinois and Loyola Chicago will meet in the Round of 32 of the men's 2021 NCAA tournament.
The Fighting Illini, a No. 1 seed this year, had no trouble in their first game of the Big Dance, knocking off No. 16 Drexel 78-49. Later Friday afternoon, the No. 8 Ramblers pulled away from No. 9 Georgia Tech, scoring a 71-60 victory.
That sets up a Sunday matchup between the two Illinois schools, both of which won their conference tournaments in recent weeks.
Illinois is among several favorites to win the entire tournament this year. But Loyola is no easy draw in that quest. The Ramblers are an experienced bunch with holdovers from their run to the Final Four in 2018.
Illinois leads the all-time series 12-3 over Loyola. They last played one another in November 2011, when the Fighting Illini won 67-49. That was Porter Moser's first season as the Ramblers head coach.
Before then, you have to go all the way back to the 2001-02 season. Illinois took down Loyola 87-72 in Champaign.
Welcome to March.