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Loyola-Chicago heading to Atlantic 10 Conference from Missouri Valley

It’s a blow to the MVC and Arch Madness, who loses the most successful program in the league.

Lucas Williamson of the Loyola Ramblers celebrates by cutting down the net after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional at Philips Arena on March 24, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Loyola defeated Kansas State 78-62 to advance to the Final Four. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers have accepted an invitation to the Atlantic 10 Conference for the 2022-23 season, which should be a competitive upgrade from their current home in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Loyola reached the Men’s Final Four in 2018, only the seventh team this century outside of the Power Six leagues and Gonzaga to make it that far. After winning both the MVC regular season and conference tournament championships in 2021, they fell in the Sweet 16 with a senior-laden squad to Oregon State 65-58.

It’s a big loss for the MVC, a league of smaller universities that are passionate about college basketball. Schools such as Bradley, Northern Iowa, and Valparaiso have all made memorable runs in the NCAA Tournament previously, but the competition and schedule strength has been led by the Ramblers in recent seasons.

Bradley won the men’s basketball conference tournament, known as Arch Madness, in both 2019 and 2020, but the 2017 winner Wichita State also left the league for the American Conference. Previously Creighton made several deep runs and headed to the Big East. It’s a pattern that will continue to make it harder for the MVC to be a multi-bid NCAA Tournament league.

The effects of Texas and Oklahoma choosing to leave for the SEC are continuing to be felt downstream, and now they’ve reached the mid-major basketball leagues. And expect this carousel to continue to spin well into 2022 as well.