(Images via Instagram, left, and Getty Images)

Almost no one expected Loyola Chicago to battle its way to the Final Four, but let’s face it: The Ramblers have had a not-so-secret weapon in Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the team’s 98-year-old chaplain. However, ahead of a matchup Saturday in the national semifinals, the Michigan Wolverines have unveiled some heavy artillery of their own: Jalen Rose’s 100-year-old, trash-talking grandmother.

Rose, a former “Fab Five” member, actually did the unveiling himself, but Michigan is undoubtedly delighted to have Mary Belle Hicks on its side. Clad in a Wolverines cap and T-shirt while speaking to the camera in a video Rose posted recently, Hicks had a message for her new nemesis(ter).

“Sister Jean, it’s been a good ride. But it’s over Saturday,” Hicks said. “Go Blue! 100.”

Shots fired! And it’s not like Sister Jean can complain of Hicks treating her elders with disrespect.

Of course, we can assume this is all in good fun, as Rose has demonstrated a playful side in his appearances as an ESPN analyst, one set to join Mike Greenberg and Michelle Beadle on the network’s new morning show next week. At the same time, both Hicks and Rose, a Detroit native who helped Michigan reach the national title game in 1992 and 1993, are ardently hoping for a Wolverines win over the upstart Ramblers.

If the ride does indeed end Saturday for Loyola, it’s been a glorious one for the school, which hadn’t been to the tournament since 1985 and became just the fourth No. 11 seed and fifth team seeded lower than ninth to reach the Final Four. Along the way, Sister Jean has been a constant presence at the games and in media appearances, becoming far more famous than any of the Ramblers’ players.

In fact, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum announced Monday that a new figurine honoring the nun quickly set a sales record. “Everyone needs some of Sister Jean’s positive attitude and a great spirit in their life,” the museum’s CEO said.

Well, the Wolverines and their fans might argue with that assertion, especially with Rose’s granny in their ranks. As Hicks made perfectly clear, what they need is to see the final chapter in Loyola’s fairy-tale story arrive Saturday, in what is shaping up as quite the battle of the ages.

(H/T Detroit Free Press)

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