Once again the Louisville Cardinals came from behind to win a tournament game. After beating Wichita State Saturday the Cardinals beat the Michigan Wolverines to win the National Championship 82—76.
“We’ve been doing it for a couple games straight, being down, and we just had to wait and make a run.” Luke Hancock told CBS Sports after the game.
Louisville was the No. 1 overall seed and was the favorite to win it all before the tournament started. Hancock came off the bench to lead the way for the Cardinals with a career high 22 points as he went 5 for 5 from the 3—point line and earned the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
The Wolverines had a 12 point lead in the first half but let it slip away as the Cardinals went on a 14 to 3 run at the end of the first half. At halftime Michigan led by one 38—37.
National player of the year Trey Burke led all scorers with 24 points but was on the bench at the end of halftime due to early foul trouble.
Louisville took that momentum and kept it taking their first lead of the game on the first shot of the second half, 40—38. The game went back and forth for most of the second half although Michigan didn’t lead for the last 15 minutes of the game.
The game was within three points until the five minute mark when Louisville started pulling away and never looked back. The Cardinals built the lead up to ten points at the 3:27 mark and withstood any comeback attempts Michigan might have had.
“I have the 13 toughest guys I’ve ever coached,” Head Coach Rick Pitino told CBS Sports.
Pitino was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame today and became the first ever coach to win a national championship at two different schools. Pitino also won in 1996 with Kentucky.
“All throughout my life I’ve had the greatest players,” Pitino said to CBS Sports. “Players put coaches in the hall of fame.”
One of those players was Kevin Ware who broke his leg in the regional final against Duke and was unable to play again in the tournament. Ware could be heard telling his teammates to win the game as he was being carried off the court.
They did more than that as his teammates won the next two games after finishing that one to win the national championship. Ware was on the sideline with his leg propped up for both those games.
“These are my brothers and they got the job done and I’m so proud of them.” Ware told CBS Sports after the game.
After a season of upsets and parody it was the top dog who were cutting down the nets at the end of March Madness. After we saw Florida Gulf Coast and Wichita State make Cinderella-like runs it was Goliath who prevailed.
While it wasn’t ever easy, Louisville got the job done and are the National Champions of college basketball in 2013.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Scott Annis at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org