Entering Monday night’s NCAA national championship game, 5’11, 170 pound freshman guard Spike Albrecht averaged just 1.8 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists in just 7.6 minutes per game for the Michigan Wolverines during the 2012-2013 season.
However, when John Beilein yanked 2013 Naismith Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year Trey Burke with 11:09 left in the first half, Albrecht became a national sensation.
He played with confidence. He played with raw emotion. He trended on Twitter and he erupted for 17 first half points — 16.2 above his season average. The rookie went 6-7 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arc and keyed Michigan’s enormous 15-6 run with Burke on the bench in foul trouble.
Before Albrecht, who looks like he hasn’t even hit puberty, began carving up the famed Louisville defense and ripping the net from deep, hardly anyone outside of Ann Arbor and the national media even knew Albrecht was on the Michigan roster. Hell, Clark Kellog told a story during the broadcast that security didn’t even let the freshman into the arena for a game earlier this season because he doesn’t even come close to looking the part of a Division I basketball player.
But, hey, that’s what college basketball is all about.
The NCAA tourney is often celebrated for magical Cinderella teams that make deep runs through the annual competition. But, America craves Cinderella players over teams. The public wants to experience incredible stories about people.
Albrecht certainly doesn’t have star power or glitz or glamour. But, he’s the unfathomable hero that intercollegiate sports and competition is all about.