No. 1 overall seed Louisville completed a dominant run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament by pulling away from Michigan in the national championship game.
With the 82-76 win, Louisville earned its third national basketball championship and Rick Pitino, who will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later this year, becomes the first head coach to win a championship with two different programs 17 years after his title at Kentucky.
With 664 wins, two titles and an NBA stint under his belt, Pitino has pretty much seen it all on a basketball court. Heck, just the other week he witnessed a snapped tibia protruding through one of his player’s leg, so it’s pretty safe to assume that not much phases the man.
Unannounced celebratory fireworks, though, now those are scary…
For a minute there Rick Pitino thought he had been set up like the Joe Pesci character in “Goodfellas.”
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 9, 2013
Michigan got off to a great start behind the phenomenal shooting of Spike Albrecht, but Louisville quickly erased a 10-point first half deficit with some hot shooting from Luke Hancock and went into the half down just one after what was likely the run that changed the game.
Hancock, who lifted Louisville over Wichita State in the Final Four on Saturday, came up huge again in a game where the usual suspects were nowhere to be found for large stretches of the night. The junior swingman finished with an incredible 22 points on just six field goal attempts two days after dropping 20 on the Shockers to take home the Most Outstanding Player award for the Final Four.
Luke Hancock’s five 3-pointers are the most by anyone without a miss in a national championship game.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 9, 2013
Peyton Siva may not have shot the ball nearly as well as Hancock did, but the point guard was a major factor for the Cardinals on both ends of the floor, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals while being cheered on by the most enthusiastic parent of the tournament…
For Michigan, there’s no shame in defeat. The Wolverines entered the tournament as the youngest team in the 68-team field and gave the Cardinals all they could handle in the championship game with the Fab Five in attendance (though Chris Webber didn’t sit with the other four). In addition, Trey Burke finished the season with a Wooden Award and Naismith Award to his name and Mitch McGary made a name for himself as a potential NBA prospect.
Thoughts of what might have been had Burke not been limited to just 26 minutes in the championship game because of foul trouble will surely haunt Michigan and its fans for years, however, especially when the fourth foul was clearly not a foul…
That play was a fitting end to the tournament for NCAA officials who seriously dropped the ball over the last few weeks.
Anyway, back to the champs.
In a season that was defined by parity and the lack of a clear cut No. 1 team, Louisville turned the script upside down in the tournament, cruising into the Final Four virtually untouched before erasing double-digit deficits against both Wichita State and Michigan once there.
In the end, Pitino’s Cardinals ensured that the lasting image of the 2013 tourney would not be of Kevin Ware writhing on the floor in pain, but rather of Ware on crutches, cutting down a net that had been lowered for him.
One shining moment, indeed.