The Stack is here on championship Monday as college basketball will crown a men's champion tonight in Atlanta. We'll talk about that as well as the women's Final Four in New Orleans so let's get right to it and see what's in "the stack" for today, Monday, April 8:
Men's Final Four reaction
Louisville is a very resilient team. Clearly they didn't play their best against Wichita State yet somehow they found a way to rally back from a twelve point deficit and knock off the Shockers 72-68. There is little doubt that the Cardinals would not be in the championship game tonight without the play of Luke Hancock, who came off the bench and dropped twenty points including five points. On a night which saw star guard Russ Smith start out one for six from the free throw line and just naturally struggle throughout much of the game, it was Hancock who led the Cardinals comeback charge. Tim Henderson added a couple of threes and Louisville was the beneficiary of a quick held ball call off of a missed free throw with six seconds left that have some Wichita State fans upset, believing that the whistle was too quick and Wichita State would have come out with the ball. The Shockers incredible run ends and they were so close to the national championship game. They're losing four seniors, but head coach Gregg Marshall has a good nucleus coming back. They'll be just fine next year. What a test they gave Louisville. The Shockers made a lot of fans along the way.
Michigan is Louisville's opponent following their 61-56 win over Syracuse. Michigan was really in control of this game from start to finish. They had to fend off a rally from the Orange, but were able to do so just fine. Neither team played very well offensively. Michigan was a little off on their three point shooting and was terrible from the free throw line, but they made life very difficult for Syracuse. Michael Carter-Williams had just two points. The Orange were three for fourteen from three point land. It was not a great game for them. Perhaps the setting is a little bit to blame, playing on a raised court and everything. I don't know. It's just a suggestion. Maybe it's just that sort of year in college basketball. Louisville-Michigan preview straight ahead.
Women's Final Four thoughts
The women's championship game is set and I'm sure it's not the championship game most people were thinking. #5 Louisville rallied back to beat #2 California 64-57. They were down ten at half and ratcheted up the defensive intensity in the second half, giving up just twenty points to Cal. Louisville was helped by Antonita Slaughter who scored 18 points, all of them coming from three point land. She knocked down six three pointers on just ten attempts. She had the hot hand. Louisville has now knocked off Baylor, Tennessee and Cal in their last three games. That's two two seeds and a one. Louisville basketball is looking pretty good right now.
Their opponent in Tuesday night's championship will be UCONN who destroyed Notre Dame 83-65. Fourth time was apparently the charm for the Lady Huskies who had lost to Notre Dame three times already this season, but all three were close games, including one that went to three overtimes. UCONN finally figured Notre Dame out. It's tough to beat a team three teams in a season, let alone four. Perhaps Notre Dame would have won if they hadn't shot 29 percent from the floor. Maybe you can get by with that against most teams, but not UCONN. So the championship game will be Louisville versus Connecticut. So close to the Baylor-Notre Dame matchup that I and I can only think most people had at the beginning of the tournament.
#4 Michigan vs. #1 Louisville 9:23 PM ET CBS (National Championship game)
The stage is set. All of the hours put in the gym, all of the blood, sweat and tears throughout the season has come down to this. Michigan and Louisville for college basketball's championship. Someone will be crowned the winner of March Madness. Neither team played their best game of the tournament Saturday night yet both still managed to find a way to win. Michigan is the youngest team in the tournament relying heavily on four freshman contributing night in, not out. They've handled every test given to them so far with remarkable poise. That 2-3 zone Syracuse has? Michigan was able to solve it. Will they be able to solve the full court pressure that Louisville is about to bring? No team doesn it quite like Louisville. They got into some major four trouble against Wichita State, something they must avoid against this Michigan team. If Michigan can break that pressure and have their shooters spread out along the wing, they will win the game. Michigan almost seems like the team of destiny this year. You could say the same thing for Louisville though. With Kevin Ware's leg injury, they have come together on a mission more so than before. Russ Smith will not play as tight tonight as he did Saturday night. Gorgui Dieng will make a basket tonight. I picked Louisville in my main bracket. But I think I'm leaning Michigan now. I think destiny is on their side. This game is a toss up. I keep going back and forth. Should be a good game.
Coming up tomorrow: Louisville-Michigan championship game reaction, Louisville-UCONN preview plus other top stories in sports