The Louisville Cardinals finished their dream on Monday night in Atlanta by winning their third national title in school history with an 82-76 win over the Michigan Wolverines.
The overall No. 1 seed had its toughest game of the NCAA tournament yet, and needed a late surge to knock off a young and relentless Michigan squad led by college basketball’s Player of the Year Trey Burke.
The game turned out to be everything one could have imagined. The game included spectacular shooting from both sides, as well as tough and physical play on the boards. Michigan finished the game shooting 52.1 percent from the field with 26 rebounds and Louisville went 45.9 percent from the field and had 31 rebounds.
The story of the first half turned into the battle of the sixth man, which included Michigan scrappy guard Spike Albrecht and Louisville guard-forward Luke Hancock. Albrecht scored a career-high 17 points in the first half that included four straight three-pointers. Hancock, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, continued his miraculous shooting spree by dropping 16 points in the first half.
The Cardinals were down 12 points with 3:02 left in the first half, but Hancock stepped his shooting up once again by going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc before halftime to get his team back into striking distance. After an intense first half of basketball and Michigan leading 38-37, things were just getting started.
The second half was even more impressive than the first half.
Burke, who sat out 14 minutes in the first half with two fouls, came out on a mission. He kept his team in the game by making big three-pointers and putting his body on the line by driving the lane to get to the foul line. Burke finished the game with an 24 points.
Louisville’s Peyton Siva also played well in the second half by driving the lane and knocking down shots as well. Siva ended up finishing with 18 points and five assists.
Louisville’s Chane Behanan may have played the biggest impact in his team's second half success.
He was a force to be reckoned with on the glass and fought for every point and rebound he could get his hand's on. Behanan’s strong physical play down low and Hancock’s big three-pointer, which gave the Cardinals a 76-66 lead with 3:27 left in the game, helped finish off the Wolverines. Behanan recorded a double-double (15 points and 12 rebounds) and Hancock tied a career high with 22 points.
Rick Pitino captured his second national title of his coaching career, his first coming in 1996 with in-state rival Kentucky. On Monday, not only did Pitino earn a national title, but he was also elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Cardinals ended their 2012-2013 campaign on a 16-game winning streak and finished with a 35-5 overall record.