Well you can “chalk” this one up, it’s all over. We finally know who the true number 1 team is in college basketball and that would be the Louisville Cardinals. This was a regular clash of the titans between truly the top two teams in the country ending in an 82-76 Louisville win. Michigan fought hard and even had Louisville buried at one point, but Louisville’s resiliency was just too much for the Wolverines and the Cardinals stormed back to break Michigan’s heart.
I was a little off with my score prediction, a little low in fact, but nonetheless accurately predicted a close game between two great teams. The game started with a back in forth affair, with both teams scoring at will. Then Michigan started to really take control led by an unlikely source in Spike Albrecht coming off the bench to get 17 points including 4 3’s to get the Michigan lead up to as much as 12 points late in the first half. Enter Luke Hancock.
Final Four Most Outstanding Player, “Cool Hand” Luke Hancock would then start to light it up himself from downtown and lead his Cardinals all the way back. He made 4 3-point shots in the span of 2 minutes and brought the Cardinals back to within one point going into halftime. Contributions by Chane Behanan and Gorqui Dieng in getting rebounds and dominating inside the paint really wore Michigan down inside and continued to be deflating for a Michigan team because they couldn’t get consistent stops.
After halftime, it would be a back in forth affair the rest of the way. Trey Burke would start to make his presence felt and really turn it on for Michigan all over the floor. On the other side, Peyton Siva would shoulder the load and score and distribute really helping his team keep up with the Trey Burke led attack from Michigan. Russ Smith would have an off night which didn’t hurt the Cardinals in the end but definitely didn’t help during the game. That’s why you got teammates though, to pick you up and make up for it and that’s exactly what guys like Hancock, Dieng, and Behanan did. Louisville would get it up to a 10 point game late in the game and Michigan would cut it to 4, but with the help of great rebounding and free throw showing, Louisville was able to put it away.
Both teams were really equal on both sides of the ball and it was truly a test of just who was the better team and Louisville proved that. Rebounding and resiliency were what eventually would push Louisville over the top and give them the National Championship. Don’t count out their tremendous amounts of emotion either playing for their teammate Kevin Ware. Tip your cap to Michigan though, they played valiantly and you got to feel for the guys because they played so hard, but someone had to lose.
It surely was an exciting National Championship and one of the best I have watched. It definitely was the best way to end this tournament of March Madness and after this lack luster season, the championship game definitely needed to be like what transpired Monday night. After the long journey one team stands as number 1, and that team is the Louisville Cardinals. A team that showed heart, resiliency, gut, and emotion, these guys earned it and deserved it. They are the true warriors because they were able to survive the madness.