Peyton Siva scored 18 points to help lift Louisville past Michigan to the NCAA title.
ATLANTA (WDRB) – In a year where nobody wanted to be Number One college basketball team for more than a few dribbles, we didn't settle the debate until the final 30 seconds of the season.
Michigan wanted it, hitting three-point shots from Valdosta, Jacksonville and Miami. And then the Wolverines didn't.
Louisville wanted it, roughing the Wolverines up on the glass and making a few really deep shots, too. And then the Cardinals didn't.
Michigan. Louisville. Louisville. Michigan.
The envelope, please?
Hand it to the Louisville Cardinals – with special delivery from Peyton Siva and a postmark by Luke Hancock. Getting 16 points from Hancock in the first half and a dozen from Siva in the second half, U of L outlasted the Wolverines, 82-76, in the Georgia Dome. The Comeback Cards trailed by as many as a dozen points and were behind by a point at halftime during both Final Four games.
Hancock made two free throws with 29.8 seconds to play to push the Cardinals ahead 80-74. Then Siva iced it by making two more with 12.9 left to ensure the victory and give U of L its third NCAA title, first since 1986.
Hancock finished with 22 points, the most scored by a substitute in the national championship game in 49 years. Siva, the senior point guard, had 18 points, making all six of his free throws.
When it was over, Siva wrapped his arms around U of L coach Rick Pitino, who became the first coach to win an NCAA championship at two different schools.
In the first half, I wondered if this was a national championship game or Spike Albrecht (Michigan) and Luke Hancock (Louisville) entertaining America with a rousing game of H-O-R-S-E.
"Look at the storylines out there," Michigan coach John Beilein said.
At one end of the floor there was Albrecht, a last-minute add-on to Michigan's 2012 recruiting class who was all but signed, sealed and delivered to Appalachian State. The kid grew up in Crown Point, Ind., tucked in the northwest part of the state but didn't get a sniff from the Indiana high school All-Star team.
Trey Burke, Michigan's national player of the year, went to the bench with two fouls with 11:09 to play in the first half. So what? Albrecht hit three after three after three after three – and then drive after drive.
He scored 17 points in the first half – 10 more than his career high. Albrecht pushed the Wolverines to a 12-point lead with less than four minutes to play in the half.
Not as much as you think. Credit Luke Hancock for that.
Hancock also made three after three after three after three – on four consecutive possessions. Hancock didn't have 17 points in the first half. He only had 16. And Louisville trailed, 38-37.
"It's going to be one of the best games ever," Michigan coach John Beilein said at halftime.
And it was, especially for Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock, Rick Pitino and Louisville.