The underdog Loyola-Chicago Ramblers — and team chaplain Sister Jean Delores Schmidt — aren’t alone in embracing the stage provided by March Madness, the largest annual college basketball event of the season. Sneaker brands are also in the spotlight heading into the Final Four round, scheduled for Saturday in San Antonio.
Nike has surely already won the tournament, with the Swoosh featured head-to-toe on 44 of the final 64 teams, including two of the four schools remaining. (Michigan wears Jordan Brand, a Nike-backed label.) And on Saturday, when Loyola-Chicago and the Michigan Wolverines face off in one semifinal matchup, it will pit a Nike university against one of Jordan Brand’s most prominent schools.
Sister Jean has also grabbed sneaker-related headlines of her own, thanks to the annual hoops tournament. She was recently spotted in her “Sister Jean” Nikes, executed in the team’s colors, with her name embroidered on the heel. But Loyola, while outfitted in Nike’s latest and greatest such as the Nike LeBron 15, isn’t a well-known marketing machine for Nike.
Michigan, however, a perennial college hoops powerhouse, cranks out all sorts of powerful Jordan Brand colorways. Before starting the Big 10 basketball tournament, the Wolverines showed off a new Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 player’s edition. And throughout the season, much of the team sported a school-inspired iteration of the Air Jordan 32 Low. The label signed the school in 2015, and outfits its basketball and football teams in special-edition footwear.
The other semifinal pits the Villanova Wildcats, a Nike mainstay, against a flagship Adidas school, the Kansas Jayhawks. Villanova wears a selection of school-colored Nike sneakers to choose from when they take the court.
For the Jayhawks, Adidas created a special page for the team on its website, which shows off the Crazy Explosive Primeknit Low in Kansas colors, one of the models the team wears on the court.
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