Travis Tritt may have delivered one of the slowest renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” ever, but the Cardinals and Wolverines made up for it with an extremely quick start to the game. Michigan’s Spike Albrecht and Trey Burke both got off to hot starts, helping the Wolverines grab the early lead. Albrecht was so hot the Michigan hardly missed Burke in the middle of the first half once he picked up two quick fouls. Aside from hot shooting, the Wolverines also controlled the boards. Coming into the game, most analysts thought Louisville’s physicality would get the best of Michigan. In actuality, the Wolverines matched the rough and tumble play of the Cardinals while showing pure finesse at the offensive end.
Meanwhile, Louisville could not quite seem to get in sync in the first half. They were running but not really getting anywhere until Luke Hancock began to do his best impression of Albrecht. Hancock single-handedly brought the Cardinals back into the game, leading Louisville on one of its trademark runs as they closed the half down 38-37.
The game settled down in the second but each team traded one explosive basket after another before a raucous crowd in the Georgia Dome. This game had enough explosive plays to fill ESPN’s Top 10, thanks to guys like Tim Hardaway Jr. of Michigan and Louisville’s Montrez Harrell.
Louisville seized control midway through the second half thanks to poor officiating which allowed the Cardinals to be extremely physical and overdue interior play from Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan. Louisville also took advantage of Michigan’s Mitch McGary getting into foul trouble. While the Cardinals did find themselves in severe foul trouble, it was their constant pressure that eventually wore the Wolverines down. Not to mention, the Cardinals really punished Burke anytime he drove to the lane.
Michigan now falls to 1-5 in championship games; while Louisville made sure the state of Kentucky remained the kings of college basketball. With the win, head coach Rick Pitino closed out the best week ever. Having not only won a national championship but celebrating his 37th anniversary, he entered into the hall of fame and his son got the head coaching job with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Pitino also promised his players he would get a tattoo with the win; one can only wonder whether it will be a picture of Luke Hancock or Peyton Siva as they carried Louisville to the win. This game also culminated an emotional journey for a Louisville team who lost a key player in Kevin Ware to an injury that gripped the hearts of even those who know little about the sport.