Last night, I watched one of the best college basketball games in years. Louisville ended up beating Mighigan 82-76 for their 3rd NCAA Championship. The Cardinals were led by their 6th man, Luke Hancock, who was named Most Outstanding Player. The game went back and forth between both teams, and you just couldn’t keep your eyes off the tv.
As everyone expected, the game started out with both teams running the floor; the game was very up-tempo. The game was going to be about who could stop the fast break the best. National Player of the Year, Trey Burke, started the game with Michigan’s first 7 points, and it looked like Burke was going to have a promising night.
However, he had two early fouls in the first 7 minutes and was taken out and wouldn’t score or even come back in during the first half. It would appear the Louisville would capitalize on this opportunity in order to get an early lead off of Michigan.
Well if you thought that, you were wrong.
The player who came in for Burke was a man named Spike Albrecht. He came into the game and absolutely tore it up in the first half. Albrecht shot 6-7 in the first half and went 4-4 from deep, scoring 17 points and leading the Wolverines. Before last night’s game, Spike averaged 1.8 ppg and never scored more than 7 points in a single game. Louisville actually was not doing anything wrong, but Michigan was playing their best basketball all year.
Down by 12 with around 3 minutes left in the half, it looked like Louisville was in some trouble.
Louisville, as they have done many times before, started their comeback. Luke Hancock came into the came and played most of the first half due to Russ Smith’s poor shooting in the game (3 for 16).
Hancock decided that he was going to match Albrecht’s shooting from long range and also hit four 3’s in under three minutes to tally up 16 points in those three minutes. With the momentum swinging towards the Cardinals, Michigan began to struggle. The Cardinals then ended the first half on a 14-3 run and were down 38-37 at half.
At halftime, many of the commentators were talking about how keeping Trey Burke out the last 12 minutes was a bad idea for the Wolverines. They said Burke would be out of sync and have no rhythm coming into the second half. The commentators couldn’t be any more wrong. With Albrecht cooled down, Burke took over the show for Michigan. He ended up with 24 points and shot 7-11 from the field. However, one player cannot carry a team to victory, especially in the championship game.
Hancock made his mark in the first half, but still added 6 more points in the second half and ended up with 22 points. Louisville’s Chane Behanan added valuable minutes for the team and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, having the only double-double in the game.
Even with these solid contributors, Peyton Siva stole the show in the second half. Siva is so fast and quick, and it is nearly impossible to stop him on the fast break. By the end of the game, Siva had 18 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds, and four steals. He did it all for the Cardinals.
With Russ Smith producing nothing, Peyton had to have a big game like this for Louisville to win.
The game was over, and the Cardinals were the new champions. Rick Pitino won the championship with his second team (his first with Kentucky).
Fun Fact: Pitino told his team he would get a tattoo if they won it all. Looks like Rick is going to have some new ink by the end of the year- see below.
Luke Hancock became the first bench player to be named Most Outstanding Player. Louisville lived up to the expectations of being the overall #1 team in America.
This game went back and forth and will be remembered fondly, as one of the best championship games of all time.