In one of the most exciting men’s basketball title games in recent history, No. 1 seed Louisville on April 8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., won its third national basketball championship in school history after edging No. 4 seed Michigan, 82-76.
Louisville and Michigan exchanged leads several times throughout the second half, but it was Louisville who simply made more plays late in the game to break away from Michigan for the championship victory.
It actually took a double-digit comeback for Louisville to win; they trailed by as many as 12 points when Michigan got off to a hot start early in the first half.
Michigan’s sophomore guard Trey Burke, who was named the Naismith Player of the Year earlier on Monday April 8, got into foul trouble just minutes into the start of the game and had to sit on the bench for 12 minutes of the first half. Michigan nevertheless got a surprising spark of points from reserve freshman guard Spike Albrecht, who scored 17 points in the opening half.
Louisville sustained Michigan’s early burst of points, however, and maintained its pressuring defense until they eventually began creating transition points off of turnovers, allowing them to cut Michigan’s lead down to just one point at halftime.
The second half of the game was much tighter on the scoreboard; Louisville led by only three points with just a few minutes left in the game when Burke hustled down court for a huge block on Louisville senior guard Peyton Silva. But instead of Burke getting what replay cameras reflected as being a clean block, he was called for a foul, which gave Silva two easy free throws and shifted the momentum back into Louisville’s favor. The free throws gave Louisville a five point lead and Michigan was never able to cut back into the lead.
Silva finished with 18 points, along with five assists and six rebounds; junior forward Luke Hancock led Louisville with 22 points off the bench.
Burke scored a game-high 24 points, while Michigan’s freshman forward Glenn Robinson III and junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. both scored 12 points despite the heartbreaking loss.
With the victory, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino became the first coach to win national championships with different colleges. His first championship came in 1996 when he coached the University of Kentucky to the NCAA basketball crown.