Louisville Defeats Michigan to Win NCAA Championship

final4The Louisville Cardinals finished the 2012-13 NCAA Basketball season on another high note Monday night, defeating the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Championship Game 82-76. Louisville finished the season with a sixteen game win streak, including a Big East Championship and a flawless NCAA Tournament record to earn the school’s third national title (1980 & 1986). The Cardinals finished the 2012-13 campaign with a record of 35-5, while Michigan finished 31-8 on the year.

The Cardinals were led on the court by guard Luke Hancock, who came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points, and was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Senior guard Peyton Siva scored 18 points for Louisville, and forward Chane Behanan had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Kevin Ware watched from the sidelines in a leg cast; he broke his right leg in two places in Louisville’s Elite Eight game against Duke last Sunday. Since going down with the injury, Ware has been a source of inspiration and motivation for the Louisville basketball community.

The win also marks the second national championship for Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who previously won a title with the Kentucky Wildcats in 1996. Earlier this week, Pitino learned that he was one of the twelve inductees into the 2013 Class of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, Pitino has made history by becoming the first coach to win a national championship with two schools.

Michigan was led by Trey Burke, the 2013 College Basketball Player of the Year, who scores 24 points on 7-11 shooting. Spike Albright added 17 for the Wolverines, and Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 12 points apiece. Michigan shot  52% form the field in the loss, but also missed 7 free throws in the contest. The loss marks Michigan’s third consecutive loss in National Championship Game appearances (they previously lost in 1992 & 1993).

Louisville becomes the third #1 overall seed to win the national championship. Since the NCAA started naming #1 overall seeds in 2004, only three teams (2007 Florida, 2012 Kentucky, 2013 Louisville) have run the table and cut down the nets in April. Louisville was a deep, athletic, talented team in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but this championship will be remembered for the legacy of Kevin Ware, and the determination of a team to rebound from tragedy to reach great heights.

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