Last season: 32-6.
Coach: Porter Moser.
Conference: Missouri Valley.
Who’s back: Guard Clayton Custer tries to become the first back-to-back MVC Player of the Year winner since Creighton’s Doug McDermott (2012, 2013). Custer averaged 13.2 points, shot 45.1 percent on 3-pointers and got a sweet bounce while burying the winning jumper in the closing seconds against Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Guard Marques Townes averaged 11.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season. Like Custer, he hit a huge shot in the NCAAs — a decisive 3 in the closing seconds against Nevada in the Sweet 16. Center Cameron Krutwig was MVC Freshman of the Year last season, averaging 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Who’s new: Freshman Franklin Agunanne, a 6-foot-9 forward, drew interest from Big East and Big Ten schools. Aher Uguak, a 6-7 forward, is eligible after sitting out last season following a transfer from New Mexico.
The Skinny: Loyola-Chicago stunned the nation with a gripping run to the Final Four last season, setting a school record for wins and capturing the Missouri Valley regular-season and tournament championships along the way. With Sister Jean providing a spiritual lift, the Ramblers were the feel-good story of the tournament. Loyola has been picked to finish first in the preseason MVC poll.
Expectations: Vegas oddsmakers have Loyola as a long shot to win the NCAA at 350-1 despite last year’s run, the same as nearby Northwestern.