It may be a tough pill to swallow for fans of the Blue and Maize, but the Michigan Wolverines made losing look good Monday night.
Though they fell to Louisville in the final of the NCAA Tournament, Michigan capped a surprising tournament run with a terrific title matchup against the Cardinals.
No. 1 seed Louisville may have escaped Atlanta with an 82-76 win and the national title, but make no doubt about it—the No. 4 Wolverines played out of their minds in the championship game.
Entering the tournament, Rick Pitino’s squad was the heavy tournament favorite.
Eleven of 13 ESPN basketball analysts predicted Louisville would win their region to make the Final Four, while just one—Dick Vitale—selected Michigan.
Even President Barack Obama selected the Cardinals to win it all in his ESPN tournament bracket.
Michigan looked sharp in their return to the national championship—it was the team’s first title game since 1993. AP National Player of the Year Trey Burke dropped a game-high 24 points on the Cardinals, and his play may have not even been the most impressive on the Michigan squad.
Freshman Spike Albrecht came off the bench to make four straight three-pointers, scoring a career-high 17 points. Prior to entering the game, Albrecht averaged 1.8 points per game and had a career high of seven points in a game.
The Wolverine’s would eventually cough up a 12-point first-half lead but they looked sharp early on, entering the break up 38-37 before the Cardinals outscored them 45-38 in the second half.
Led by Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock’s 22 points, guard Peyton Siva’s 18 points and forward Chane Behanan’s 15 points and 12 rebounds, the Cardinals were just too much for Michigan.
In the end, the Wolverines may have not won it all, but they more than proved they belonged on the court with the national champions.
All statistics via ESPN.