Louisville outlasts Michigan in wild National Championship
The Louisville Cardinals had been down before. They trailed by 12 in their Final Four matchup against Wichita State, and they trailed the game before against Duke where one of their players suffered a gruesome injury right in front of their bench. So when they fell behind early against the Michigan Wolverines in the National Title game, they didn't panic. Led by 22 points from Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock, the Cardinals captured their third championship with an 82-76 victory.
Hot shooting from the Wolverines
For much of the first half, it looked like Michigan was going to run away with it. Little-known bench player Spike Albrecht lit up the scoreboard with 17 early points - shooting four of five from three-point range - to give the Wolverines a double digit lead. However, Louisville managed to claw back toward the end of the half and closed the gap to just one point heading into the break. When the teams took the floor for the second half, all the momentum was in the Cardinals' favor.
Sub leads the way
Hancock helped close the gap before half time, and he helped give the Cardinals the lead for good. He was a perfect five-for-five from beyond the arc, and his performance made him the first bench player in tournament history to win MOP honors. But it wasn't just Hancock who brought the Cards to the title. Head coach Rick Pitino, who took home his second title with the victory - he won with Kentucky in 1996 - says it was a true team effort.
"I had the 13 toughest guys I've ever coached," Pitino told reporters after the game. "I'm just amazed they could accomplish everything we put out there."
Michigan may be back
Although the Wolverines fell just short of winning their first title since 1989, fans shouldn't be surprised if they make a return trip next year. Michigan will likely bring back many of the starters from this year's squad. Sophomore Trey Burke, the team's leading scorer, will enter the NBA Draft, but other stand out players, such as freshmen Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas will probably all be back, as will junior Tim Hardaway Jr.