In one of the most exhilarating games in recent tournament history, the Louisville Cardinals defeated the Michigan Wolverines, 82-76, to become the 2013 national champions.
Team captain Luke Hancock led the Cardinals with 22 points on five three-pointers, while Chane Behanan tallied 15 points and 12 rebounds. Senior point guard Peyton Siva finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
With a full team effort, the Cardinals gave Rick Pitino an honor that no other coach shares—he's now the only coach in NCAA history to own national championship rings at two different schools.
As for Michigan, the Wolverines played an extraordinary game and are deserving of as much praise they have coming. Trey Burke scored 24 points, Spike Albrecht went off for 17 and the entire Wolverines team gave a brilliant effort.
When it was all said and done, however, the Cardinals were just the better team on this evening. So, how did the world react?
As one could only expect, the Twittersphere went crazy at every twist and turn of this game. The immediate focus was how powerful both offenses were during the opening minutes.
Both teams kept that pace throughout, which has been a change of pace from what we've seen thus far.
Been knocking these games for poor ahooting--tonight I'd better praise a ton a high- high-level offense.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 9, 2013
That's meant to say shooting, for those curious.
While some praised the offense, others questioned what it would take to make an impact defensively. Fortunately for the Twittersphere, they weren't alone in those questions.
Neither of the coaches had the answer, either.
Matchup zone, nope! Straight zone, nope! Man-to-man, nope! Now what does Rick do? Key to next 16 minutes.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) April 9, 2013
Would we have had it any other way?
Not all of the questions came about offense and defense, however, as there were folks concerned with the refereeing. It wasn't just the crowd, either, as some of the all-time greats weighed in.
Phil Jackson, everyone.
I'm not impressed with the refs...they are missing calls— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 9, 2013
As an unbiased viewer, I cannot agree nor disagree.
In terms of individual achievement, no one made a name for themselves quite like Spike Albrecht. Not only did he erupt for a career-high 17 points in the first half alone, but Albrecht's star hit an all-time high.
Twitter responded well.
Spike Albrecht's 1st half numbers: 17 points and 8K new Twitter followers.— chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) April 9, 2013
That counts for something, right?
Even as Albrecht lit up the scoreboard, former NCAA champion Greg Anthony weighed in on Trey Burke resting on the bench for 11 straight minutes.
Although Burke was battling foul trouble, there's one thing you need to ask: Why wasn't the Naismith award winner in there to weather the storm as Louisville made its comeback run? Anthony wondered that out loud.
Do you agree?
The decision by Beilein is not just about a 3rd fould it's about the run that allows @villebasketball to get back in the game!— Greg Anthony (@GregAnthony50) April 9, 2013
The fact of the matter is, Louisville did storm back and enter the half down just one point.
Come the second half, there was reason to question another coach's decision, as Rick Pitino benched leading scorer Russ Smith. When Smith came back into the game, the question was simple. Where's his head at?
Russ Smith's head doesn't seem to be into this...benching was bad idea...— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) April 9, 2013
Fortunately, Smith bounced back with a big three to assuage any questions or criticisms.
Whenever Smith came up short, it seemed as if Siva stepped up in a major way. Siva, who did a whole lot of everything on both ends of the floor, entered the hearts of many.
Just ask his father, with this epic fist pump.
That should be the new sign for a first down in football.
If his father's adoration isn't enough, the Twittersphere let Siva know just how much they love his game. Most specifically, Jason McIntyre of Big Lead Sports offered up a confession that he just couldn't hold in.
Siva is one of his greatest loves...you know, basketball love.
Confession: Peyton Siva is one of my favorite college hoops players over the last decade. Just love his game. As you were.— Jason McIntyre (@TheBigLead) April 9, 2013
McIntyre is far from alone in that distinction.
For all of the Louisville talk, we'd be remiss to ignore how explosive the Michigan Wolverines proved to be. That was never more evident than when Tim Hardaway Jr. threw down a vicious dunk over Gorgui Dieng.
That's a championship moment that few will forget.
Tim Hardaway Jr. throws it down! twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 9, 2013
As I said, explosive.
With the game winding down, the world joined in unison as they hoped for something to keep it all going. Fortunately, there was a member of the Twittersphere who came up with a superb idea.
Buffalo Wild Wings, anyone?
Dear Buffalo Wild Wings, hit that overtime button, ok?— Dave Telep (@DaveTelep) April 9, 2013
Unfortunately, the game did end. When the final buzzer sounded, the Louisville Cardinals emerged as the 2013 national champions. Their dreams had been achieved, and head coach Rick Pitino had made history.
Pitino enters Hall of Fame and history books. First coach to take 2 teams to national title.— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) April 9, 2013
That's why he's a Hall of Famer, ladies and gentlemen.
When it was all said and done, Louisville fans were thrilled, and Michigan fans, naturally, were crushed. As an unbiased viewer of this game, however, I'm joined by millions in saying that I'm thankful for such a competitive effort and game.
Fortunately, I wasn't alone in expressing that.
Thank you Louisville and Michigan for giving us a championship final that was entertaining from the opening tip.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) April 9, 2013
And what a game it was.