The Cardinals of Louisville are the champions of basketball, rallying as only Louisville can to beat Michigan 82-76. Louisville, in the last game as a member of the powerful Big East Conference, captured their third NCAA title, their first since 1986.
Rick Pitino wins his second NCAA title as a coach and becomes the first coach to win NCAA titles at two different schools, Kentucky and Louisville.
Talk about living a charmed life — his team won the title on the same day he was introduced as one of 12 new members of the Naismith Hall of Fame. His horse won the Santa Anita Derby and will run for the roses in May at the Kentucky Derby. His 30-year-old son Richard, after one year as head coach at Florida International, is now the head coach at the University of Minnesota.
His team plays a pressing, attacking style of basketball and twice in the Final Four trailed by 12 points. Yet they rallied to beat Wichita State Saturday 72-68 and Michigan on Monday night.
It was a terrific title game. The talented Wolverines were led by College Player of the Year, guard Trey Burke, who scored a game-high 24 points. Burke, only a sophomore, is only the third John Wooden Award winner to lose the national title game — Larry Bird (1979), Elton Brand (1999), and now Burke.
This game turned in the first half. Michigan, up 12 with Burke on the bench with two fouls, saw Louisville get hot and hit them with one of their patented runs. With just over three minutes left in the first half, Michigan in control, the Cardinals outscored Michigan 16-3, led by Luke Hancock, who scored 14 of the 16 points in a two-minute span.
Michigan had 12 turnovers for the game and were out rebounded 31-26. Louisville attempted 61 shots; Michigan attempted only 48. In this case, the extra possessions made the difference.
Hancock made eight of 10 three-point shots in the two games and led Louisville with 22 points Monday night. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, scoring 20 in the win over Wichita State.
Chane Behanan was Mr. Dirty Work, getting all the big rebounds — he finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Pitino also received a $150,000 bonus for winning the title game. You might say he’s a man who now has it all.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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