Basketball: Michigan Falls to Louisville in Battle For National Title

A great run that none of us expected a month or so ago has come to an end.

The Louisville Cardinals led by coach Rick Pitino took down the Wolverines 82-76 to win the 2013 National Championship in one of the best, if not THE best, games of this college basketball season.

Louisville, who entered the tournament as the hottest team in the country and earned the top overall seed, was simply the better basketball team. Hats off to them.

National Player of the Year Trey Burke led the Wolverines with 22 points on the night, while his understudy off the bench, Spike Albrecht, chimed in with 17 after entering for Burke about halfway through the second half with foul trouble.

Michigan at one point led by 11 in the first half after an amazing sequence of shots from Spike Albrecht. The stuff he did tonight comes straight from Hollywood scripts and he deserves kudos for how hard he played.

As good as Spike was, Michigan was going to be in trouble if Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway, Jr. failed to perform tonight. Robinson scored 12, but took only four shots from the floor. Hardaway was 5-of-13 from the field and just played all out of sorts throughout this game. Nik Stauskas had only three points on 1-of-2 shooting.

The referees were horrible on both sides and ruined the pace of a classic game, but Louisville won this game on second chance opportunities. Gorgui Dieng was given free reign in the post and the Cardinals took care of business in the paint. Luke Hancock was given far too many opportunities from the perimeter and he buried the Wolverines with 22 points of his own.

Louisville pushed their lead to 10 in the final minutes of the game, but Michigan was able to get the lead to within four with about a minute to go. This is where they failed to execute defensively the most. They wasted about 30 seconds of game time on fouling twice. Trey Burke had four fouls, so he couldn’t attempt to stop anyone. The other guys had to be conscious of this, but instead they helped the Cardinals run out the clock.

You have to give John Beilein and his staff a ton of credit for even being in this spot. It had looked like Michigan peaked early in the season and they appeared to be ending on a sour note. The team was able to pull it together and make a magnificent run through the tournament, but they came up just short against a better team.

This loss can only be positive for this group. I believe that Trey Burke is headed for the NBA, but the rest of this team should remain pretty much in tact. We should expect to hear more news on this in the coming weeks.

This was one of the most successful seasons in the history of the Michigan basketball program, but the true test comes next season. The 2013-14 team will be out to prove that this year was not a fluke, and that this program is going to be hell to deal with for years to come. They have a good recruiting class coming in and hopefully guys like Robinson, Hardaway, and McGary decide to stick around.

It’s been a great year for me covering basketball for this site. Now the real fun starts. In the coming days, weeks, and months, I will have detailed write-ups for all of the players from this year’s team and their status going forward, along with more extensive profiles of the incoming class. The 2014 class will also be a focal point of my coverage the next few months.

Don’t be upset with the loss. A banner will get to be raised in the Crisler Center, and it wont be one fans will have to be embarrassed about. Congrats to the 2012-13 Wolverines for a fun ride.

Go Blue!

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