And we have a champion! Louisville and Michigan put on one of the better national championship games we've seen in quite some time and in the end, Louisville is standing alone as the national champions of men's college basketball. The Stack is here to talk about that and a couple of other things so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, April 9:
Louisville beats Michigan in a classic
Back and forth, up and down. A game for the ages. Louisville and Michigan put on a great game and Louisville came out on top 82-76 to win their third national championship joining championship teams of 1980 and 1986. It was not without a fight though. Michigan came out smoking, led by Spike Albrecht who knocked down his first four three of the night. He finally missed one later, ending his amazing streak of nine straight threes made in the tournament. Trey Burke came out strong for Michigan, scoring the team's first five points. Michigan, at one point had a twelve point lead in the first half...before the Luke Hancock show started. He made four straight threes and fourteen points overall, willing Louisville back into the game. This was one of the spurts that head coach Rick Pitino talked about that the Cardinals would go on in the game.
The teams went back and forth in the second half before Louisville used another spurt to pull ahead. Chane Behanan was a force down low and Louisville went on to win. The second half, like the entire game for that matter, had some questionable officiating. One call in particular that has people irate was the foul called on Burke on a layup by Peyton Siva I believe that looked like a clean block. That was a big momentum shift. Rather than Michigan getting the ball back with a chance to lead, Louisville padded their lead. Michigan also had a huge blunder at the end of the game where with 50 seconds left, they waited a long time to foul Louisville only to have to foul again as Louisville hadn't reached the 1 and 1 yet. That wasted amout of time cost Michigan any real chance of tying the game or forcing overtime in the final minute.
Louisville's run will be credited to how they came together after the terrible knee injury to Kevin Ware. They became a sentimental favorite around the country. The team wanted to win for Ware. He sort of willed them to victory from the bench. And they couldn't have won the game and the championship without significant contribution from the bench, mainly looking at Hancock, the MOP of the Final Four. He had 22 points last night and 20 points Saturday night against Wichita State. His threes got Louisville back in the game and they wouldn't have won either game in Atlanta without his play. What a game. What a season. What a team. Congrats to the Louisville Cardinals. And congrats to Pitino who becomes the first coach in NCAA history to win a championship with two different teams (Kentucky and Louisville). That is remarkable.
Rick Pitino headed to the hall
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has had one heck of a week. His son, Richard Pitino gets the head coaching job at Minnesota, his horse won a race guaranteeing his spot in the Kentucky Derby and he won the NCAA championship. But the call he received Monday may have topped all that. Pitino received a call that he will go in to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. It's a well deserved honor for Pitino. He's one of seven who received such a call Monday. The others who will be inducted are...
- Guy Lewis (coach, Houston)
- Jerry Tarkanian (coach, UNLV)
- Sylvia Hatchell (coach, UNC)
- Gary Payton (NBA star guard)
- Bernard King (NBA star)
- Dawn Staley (star at University of Virginia)
Congrats to Pitino and all on this incredible achievement. Well deserved for all involved.
#5 Louisville vs. #1 UCONN 8:30 PM ET ESPN (New Orleans) Women's National Championship game
Louisville can complete a championship sweep if the women can complete their remarkable Cinderella like run by beating Geno Aueriemma's Connecticut team tonight. They met once during the regular season, a 72-58 win for UCONN. Unfortunately, I think the run ends tonight for Louisville. They've beat some great teams in the tournament, Baylor, Tennessee, even California. But UCONN is on a roll right now. They've won every game by double digits in the tournament and they bounced a very good Notre Dame team pretty easily. Are the Louisville women a team of destiny? Perhaps, but I think time has run out on them. I think they can win and barring a runaway victory, it won't stun me if they win, but I just think UCONN has too much.
No blog tomorrow. Coming up Thursday: Masters preview plus other top stories in sports.