Sometime during Cincinnati's run of three straight national final appearances, the university's chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity started a graveyard on its lawn. Markers inscribed with scores, opponents and dates were hammered into the ground, and space was starting to run out.
Loyola coach George Ireland was determined that his team would not earn a marker in the pantheon of Bearcat mauling victims. He and assistant coach Nick Kladis treated Cincy like their personal Moby Dick, scouting the Bearcats in person 10 times over the course of the 1962-63 season.
Cincinnati coach Ed Jucker would later confess to only having seen Loyola play twice.
The Runnin' Ramblers lived up to the name, a stark contrast to the slow style of Cincinnati. Their 111-42 thrashing of Tennessee Tech in the first round remains the largest winning margin in tournament history.
The final's box score gives credence to their frenetic reputation, as Loyola attempted 84 shots from the field to the Bearcats' 45. Unfortunately for Loyola fans, they didn't get to see many go in, as the Ramblers shot a mere 27 percent.
For all of Loyola's pace, however, it was remarkably careful with the ball, only committing three turnovers. Also, in spite of the high tempo, Ireland was able to get the full 45 minutes of play out of all five of his starters.
Loyola All-American Jerry Harkness was held scoreless in the first half, and the Bearcats led 45-30 with 12 minutes left. From there, fouls and turnovers mounted for Cincinnati and shots dried up as it went to its patented stall offense.
By the final 10 seconds, Loyola had trimmed the lead to one, and a pair of free throws would clinch the game.
Cincinnati's Larry Shingleton—a reluctant shooter at the best of times—made the first foul shot, then missed the second. The ball quickly got into Harkness' hands for a tying layup. Cincinnati failed to call timeout, although Jucker later claimed that he simply could not be heard over the electric crowd.
Loyola borrowed a page from Jucker's book (literally) and wore down the final two-plus minutes of overtime, trying to get Harkness a shot. When he finally saw an opening, it closed quickly and Harkness dished off to Les Hunter. Hunter missed, naturally, but Vic Rouse was there to rebound and score for the winning margin.
Aside from the drama of the overtime finish, the game was also noteworthy from a social perspective. Loyola started four black players in the title game and Cincinnati featured three, making this the first time that the teams in the national final had a majority of black players.
Earlier in the season, Loyola's one white starter, Johnny Egan, had fouled out of a game, forcing Ireland to make a rare substitution. The introduction of another black player, Pablo Robertson, made the Ramblers the first major Division I school to play with an all-black lineup.
Ireland later said, "The unspoken rule then was two blacks at home, if you had to play them, and one on the road." He played four extensively, demonstrating that in the end, the only color that mattered to him was the gold on the championship trophy.