KCHA Sports Report (3/30)

The schedule makers did not do any favors for the Iowa baseball team this season. After opening Big Ten play by splitting a doubleheader against 11th ranked Indiana the Hawkeyes open a three game on Friday night by visiting an Illinois team that is 16-5 overall and 3-0 in the league race.

That’s Iowa coach Rick Heller who says the Illini have the look of a contender in the conference race.

Heller says pitching and defense is a strength for Illinois.

Iowa is 14-8 after a Wednesday night win over Bradley.

A Cedar Falls native has been along for the ride as the Loyola of Chicago basketball team has become the darling of America in the N-C-A-A tournament.  Austin Hansen graduated from Cedar Falls High School in 2012 and then the University of Northern Iowa in 2016.  He worked for one year at Tulane University in New Orleans before moving to Loyola to become the team’s director of video for athletics.

Loyola won the Missouri Valley Conference to get a bid to the tournament and then went on a run that has them poised to play in this weekend’s final four. Hansen isn’t surprise the team has made it this far after following them from the start.

Though he now works for Loyola, Hansen still follows the Purple and Gold, and says he has an overall love of the Missouri Valley Conference.

He says the hardest sporting event he had to watch was when Loyola played U-N-I in the M-V-C tournament as he knew one of his favorite teams had to lose.  All the extra attention has kept him busy in San Antonio as he says they had 60 media outlets at their Final Four practice.  And then there’s the added attention on the Ramblers top fan — 98-year-old Sister Jean Smith.

Hansen says the team has overcome all obstacles to far this year and he expects them to come out with the same attitude when they take on Michigan this Saturday at 5:09 p-m.  He’ll be there to chronicle either the win and move into the championship game — or to wrap up the phenomenal season and the school’s first trip to the Final Four since Loyola won the National Title in 1963.

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