In a season filled with crazy upsets, No. 1 teams going down and parity, the best team in the nation is left standing. The Louisville Cardinals have won the 2013 national championship in an amazing game. Their wild ride culminated with a hard-fought 82-76 victory over the Michigan Wolverines.
But how did this all happen? Let’s take a look at how the game played out.
It was a tale of two halves. Michigan had all the momentum in the early going, thanks to seven quick points from Trey Burke and an offensive onslaught from unheralded guard Spike Albrecht, who poured in all 17 of his points in the first half. It was as if he couldn’t miss as he drilled big three after big three. In addition, Mitch McGary was making plays, just as he has all tournament, although a bit differently. Known for his ability to finish down low, McGary played great defense and hit some key mid-range jumpers.
On the contrary, Louisville was very inefficient on offense. They weren’t knocking down threes or penetrating the Michigan defense very well at all. Nearly every player on offense was quiet. It seemed like the game would be over early.
Then something special happened.
Luke Hancock, the eventual MVP of the Final Four, started knocking down three pointers left and right, ending the night with 22 points and a perfect five-for-five mark from behind the arc. His shooting cut the Wolverines’ halftime lead to one and gave the Cardinals some much needed momentum.
The second half went back and forth, but this time, it was Louisville being the aggressor. With McGary on the bench due to foul trouble, the Cardinal defense turned it up a notch, forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. Likewise, their halfcourt offense saw a huge leap as well. Peyton Siva was getting to the basket at will. Chane Behanan was a spark on the offensive glass. Gorgui Dieng, the team’s most important player, quietly showed just that, making pinpoint passes, knocking down jumpers and play superb defense. As a whole, Louisville was a different team.
But Michigan wasn’t done yet, with Burke doing his absolute best to keep his team in the game. In addition, Tim Hardaway Jr. took advantage of Russ Smith defending him, scoring a few buckets on the smaller guard.
In the end, however, it was a Hancock three that was the eventual dagger. Michigan could not hold on and Louisville won its third national title in school history.
The moment was made even more magical after the game, with the injured Kevin Ware cutting down the net. It was a remarkable end to a remarkable season.
The cream eventually rose to the top. Despite all of the madness, the best team in the nation came out victorious. This is similar to last year’s Kentucky Wildcats, with the consensus best team holding the trophy at the end.
And thus ends another wonderful college basketball season. It was as unpredictable as it’s ever been. But in conclusion, the final result turned out to be predictable after all.