March Madness: Louisville Wins National Championship
Charles E. Sutton | 4/9/2013, 6:02 p.m.
Luke Hancock was five-for-five from the three-point range as he guided Louisville to its first men's basketball title since 1986 with an 82-76 win over Michigan on Monday night, April 8.
Louisville Coach Rick Pitino added this championship to the one he captured at Kentucky in 1996 and is the first coach in NCAA history to win a title at two schools. Earlier in the day he was also elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
Hancock, who played for George Mason, was named the Final Four's most outstanding player. He had 22 points and Peyton Siva scored 18 for the Cardinals (35-5), who faced a 12-point deficit late in the first half before surging toward the school's third national championship.
Meanwhile, Trey Burke scored 24 points for Michigan (31-8), which made it to the final for the first time since the Fab Five led the Wolverines there two decades ago. Seldom-used freshman Spike Albrecht had 17 points.
But the celebration belonged to Louisville, which added this championship to a Sugar Bowl win this year.
Early in the second half, Chane Behanan scored nine quick points to help Louisville grab the lead after trailing by double figures. During the game, Behanan scored 15 points and 13 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.
Albrecht substituted for Burke and connected on his first four 3-point shots, scoring all his points in the first half. Albrecht finally missed with just over 11 minutes remaining; he still ended the tournament going 9-for-10 from beyond the three-point line.
Hancock converted on all four of his 3-point attempts to begin a 14-1 run for the Cardinals that briefly gave Louisville a one-point lead late in the first half after they were down by 12. Michigan's Glenn Robinson III made two foul shots with two seconds remaining to give the Wolverines the lead at the half, but Louisville led by as many as five early in the second.
Coming into the game, the Cardinals had won six games this season after facing deficits of 10 points or more, including Saturday night's semifinals, when they defeated Wichita State 72-68 after also trailing by 12. It was an exciting final episode of a season that has resembled a grind, with scoring at an all-time low (67.49 points per team) since 1951-52 and shooting at its worst (43.3 percent) since 1964-65.
Taking a seat on the Cardinals' bench was sophomore guard Kevin Ware, the team's inspiration since breaking his leg in the regional final last weekend. Requiring a boost without Ware, Hancock led the scoring against Wichita State. And little-used walk-on Tim Henderson made two big 3-point shots during the comeback run.
Michigan beat Syracuse 61-58 on Saturday in spite an off game from Burke, who wound up with just seven points after going only 1-for-8 from the field.
Burke, a sophomore, gave serious consideration to entering the NBA draft after last season but chose to return to Michigan in search of a national title. He won the Associated Press player of the year award, among others, but ended the season one win shy of the ultimate prize in college basketball.