Louisville Outlasts Michigan In Thriller To Claim National Championship
Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals are kings of the college basketball world, winning the National Championship Monday night by outlasting a relentless Michigan Wolverine team by the score of 82-76.
The win caps off the "greatest week ever" for Pitino, who learned early Monday that he'd be inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, whose horse "Goldencents" won the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday to claim a spot in the Kentucky Derby, whose 30 year-old son Richard was hired as head coach at the University of Minnesota several days ago, and who is now the only coach to win an NCAA basketball national championship at multiple schools (Kentucky '96, Louisville '13).
Now Pitino must follow through on a promise to his team...and get a tattoo.
Michigan didn't make it easy for the Cardinals, leading by 12 points in the first half. Wolverine freshmen Spike Albrecht had a career-half, scoring 17 points on 6-6 shooting, including 4-4 from three-point range. His previous career-high was 7 points. Albrecht spent a lot of time on the floor after consensus National Player of the Year Trey Burke got into foul trouble, playing only six of the first twenty minutes. He'd heat up though, as Burke still went on to lead all scorers with 24.
Much like they did on Saturday against Wichita State, Louisville relied on their sixth man, Luke Hancock. When trailing by a dozen in the first half, Hancock hit four 3-pointers on four straight possessions to quickly close the deficit. He finished with a team-high 22 points.
"We just went into war right there with a great Michigan team," Hancock said. "We needed a rally and we've been doing it for a couple of games straight, being down. We just had to wait and make our run."
Thanks to Hancock, they did. And thanks to his effort, he was named the Final Four's most outstanding player.
Cardinals injured forward Spence Ware, who captured America's attention last week when he suffered a gruesome leg injury in a win against Duke, sat next to the Louisville bench in uniform. After the game, his Cardinal teammates lowered the basket, allowing
Ware to cut down the net (pictured).
"These are my brothers. They got the job done," said Ware. "I'm so proud of them, so proud of them."
Louisville has had quite a year in sports. The Cardinal football team won the Sugar Bowl over the heavily favored Florida Gators out of the SEC. Louisville women's basketball will play UCONN tonight for a National Championship. To top it off, the Cardinals will be moving from the Big East to a much more stable ACC this summer.
Louisville now has three national championships in college hoops. The other two came in 1980 and 1986.