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April 8, 2013

Cardinals are National Champs




The Louisville Cardinals are the 2013 NCAA Champions. The top seed in the tournament, Louisville came back from a 12-point first half deficit to win its third national title.

With the help of five three-point field goals, 22 points from Luke Hancock, 16 points from Peyton Siva, and a double-double for Chane Behanan, the Cardinals cut down the nets in Atlanta.

"The heart of this team," Hancock said. "We went to war today against a great Michigan team. We needed to rally and we have done it a couple of times, being down. We just had to wait and make a run."

The Cardinals were down by 11 against Wichita State before coming back to win in their first game of the Final Four Saturday night. In Monday's title game, Michigan saw its 12 point lead evaporate by the end of the first half.

"But as positive a coach as Coach Pitino is in the huddle, he told us to dig in, stop the three, we're gonna make our run," Behanan said. "That's when Luke came and hit four threes back-to-back. I think that's what changed the game for us going into halftime."



THE SPIKE SHOW
Michigan actually increased its lead without leading scorer Trey Burke for a while in the first half. That's because super-sub Spike Albrecht hit 6 of 7 shots including four threes.

Albrecht had 17 points in 16 minutes of playing time, and helped Michigan to a 33-21 lead at the 3:56 mark. Albrecht even had a nifty little drive and layup to cap the Wolverines largest lead of the game.

HERE COMES LUKE...
Just as fast as Albrecht got through torching the Cardinals for 17 points, Louisville's Luke Hancock began to heat up. He had a couple of free throws to cut the Wolverine's lead to 10 with 3:33 left before halftime.

After Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a layup to push the lead back to 12, Hancock hit a three at the 2:59 mark, another at the 2:35 mark, another at the 1:50 mark and another at the 1:00 mark.

He finished the first half a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 4 of 5 from the foul line for 16 points in 13 minutes.

THE SECOND HALF
Louisville opened the second half with a three by Wayne Blackshear. It gave Louisville its largest lead of the game to that point 40-38.

Michigan went on an 8-2 run to take a 46-42 lead with just over 17 minutes left. The Cardinals regained the lead and held a 58-56 margin at the 10 minute mark.

SIVA STRIKES GOLD
Peyton Siva repeatedly drove to the basket for layups in the second half. He finished the first half with four points, and scored eight points in the first 10:30 of the second half.

Siva also had six key rebounds and five assists. With Smith struggling fromt the field, Siva's performance, specifically in the second half, was crucial.

THE TITLE
The Cardinals won their third NCAA national championship and fifth national title. Louisville won the NIT title back when that tournament attracted the best teams and also has a NAIB small college national title.

Louisville's last NCAA title came 27 years ago in 1986. The Cardinals won their first title in 1980. Michigan, which was going for its second national title, won its first in 1989.


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