Louisville rallied from another 12-point deficit with their relentless play to defeat Michigan 82-76 in the national title game. Luke Hancock brought the Cardinals back scoring 14 straight Louisville points late in the first half as he hit four three-pointers in a row.
Michigan expanded their early lead to 33-21 as backup freshman point guard Spike Albrecht scored 17 points including four straight three-pointers. Albrecht was averaging only 1.8 points per game coming into the contest. He played the last 11 minutes after Trey Burke drew his second foul and was left on the bench for the remainder of the half.
In the second half Louisville started getting the ball inside. 11 of their 16 second half baskets were inside the paint as Chane Behanen and Gorgui Dieng scored repeatedly inside. Behanen was a monster on the boards grabbing 12 rebounds, seven offensively, as he fought and scored several times off missed shots. Peyton Siva got into the lane at will and either scored on drives or dished for inside baskets. Siva scored 18 points, 11 in the last 11 minutes, grabbed six rebounds and had five assists and four steals. Russ Smith was ineffective, shooting 3-of-16 and took several ill-advised shots toward the end of the game.
The game was tight throughout the second half. Louisville had a three-point lead with 5:09 left but then went on a 9-2 run to take a 76-66 lead and ice the game. Siva hit a pair of free throws, Dieng hit two jumpers, and Hancock topped off the run with his fifth three-pointer of the game. Michigan made a run to cut the lead to four with 1:20 left but Louisville’s Hancock and Siva hit their free throws to put the game away.
Hancock was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player scoring 22 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from long distance. Burke showed why he was NetScouts Basketball’s Player of the Year as he led Michigan with 24 points in 26 minutes of play. Michigan coach John Beilein has to be questioned for leaving Burke on the bench for the final 11 minutes of the first half after he drew his second foul. It was a great end to an exciting NCAA Tournament.