NCAA in Atlanta

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So, it’s all said and done. Louisville, the number one overall seed has cut down the nets after beating Michigan, which hadn’t been to the Championship game since the Fab 5 played for the Wolverines.

Final Four and the ‘Ship

Wichita State and Syracuse deserve some serious props for their seasons. Wichita State had a typical Mountain Valley Conference season; they appeared in the top 25 a few times and lost in their conference final to the team everyone else thought was the better squad. Syracuse was looking like a championship favorite early in the season, but then they lost three straight games and didn’t look like the same team when James Southerland was injured. However, both teams were able to make dramatic runs through the tournament to fall just shy of the championship game. Syracuse looked awful in the first half against Michigan, but that defense nailed down in the second half as they made their run but came up just short as some questionable charge calls were made. Wichita State had built a large lead, but Rick Pitino called a key timeout and his team buckled down on their defense and made a run to take the lead. The last minute was an ugly minute with some tough jump balls and foul calls, but Louisville moved on to meet Michigan.

Last night Louisville captured its third National Championship in school history and first since 1986. Rick Pitino became the first coach to ever win two championships at two different schools. Let’s jump into the game. Michigan came out firing as most thought they would; however, nobody expected it to be Spike Albrecht tallying 17 points in the first half, including hit four straight three pointers, as Michigan built a double digit lead. However, Luke Hancock had something to say about it hitting four straight three pointers of his own and at half the Michigan lead was down to 1. I had the feeling, because of Louisville’s track record of second half surges, the game was already over. In second halves Louisville clamps down with their defense, pressing stamina and pressures opponents into mistakes.

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The second half was an unrelenting back and forth until Louisville went on a 9-2 run to drive the Cardinals’ faithful crazy in Atlanta, until Russ Smith decided it was a good idea to try and let Michigan back in the game. A few ill-advised shots and a stupid foul committed on Trey Burke when Michigan was already in the double bonus, had my brother jumping up and down screaming, “take him out!” Of course Pitino, couldn’t do that, but they were definitely punishable mistakes. It came down to foul shots, except John Beilein didn’t tell his guys to foul not realizing they had a couple of fouls to give. He later admitted that it was his mistake (at least he owned up to it). But the game was over and Louisville was cutting down the nets.

To review, the referees were awful, some of the worst calls I’ve seen in any basketball game ever. It went both ways too. A missed kick-ball here, strips or blocks that were called fouls, fouls that weren’t called, too quick or too slow on some jump balls. Bad calls were made both ways, but it seemed Michigan got hurt on a few more calls. However, as a Giant fan (I’m looking at you refs in the 2011 playoffs), you can’t blame the refs, you just have to beat the other team.

Louisville deserved this championship, they were a solid offensive team that boasted the best defensive side of the ball as well. Rick Pitino is easily a top 5 coach in the NCAA right now. Then there’s Kevin Ware, who is from Atlanta. His friends, his family were able to go out and win this one for him after his horrific injury. What a heart-warming story after such a heart-stopping moment last weekend. Louisville is now 3-0 in championship games and Michigan has fallen to 1-5 (OUCH!). The game was a classic though and the fans were into it, but the refs weren’t. A laughable moment is when Rick Pitino ducked after the fireworks went off inside the Georgia Dome. I guess this is how you react to loud booms when you’re born in NYC and raised in Bayville (that’s Long Island for all that don’t know)

Championship Moment

Championship Moment

The Champs

The Champs

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