Fresh off his Hall of Fame induction, Louisville coach Rick Pitino brought his Louisville Cardinals into Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for one more game. And Monday night, that game was for all the marbles as the Cards played the Michigan Wolverines. Peyton Siva left it all on the court on his last game as a Cardinal and he led his team to cut down the nets as the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions 82-76.
The experts came out split on which team would come out victorious. Of the Michigan believers, they cited the play of Wolverine guard Trey Burke and freshman sensation Mitch McGary. The Louisville supporters talked about the best backcourt in America in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. They also thought Gorgui Dieng would have a better game than he played against Wichita State on Saturday night.
Michigan drew first blood with Burke pouring in 7 early points, then Wayne Blackshear hit a 5 of his own. As two players who struggled in their respective semi-final games, it was clear what both teams wanted to establish. It wouldn’t last though.
Little knowns and scouted for Wolverine Spike Albrecht came off the bench and nailed 3 quick triples. Previous to this, he averaged 7 minutes and 2 points a game. Monday night he was on fire and finished the half with 17 points. He wouldn’t score again, though.
Burke ended up on the bench nursing two early fouls with 11 minutes to go in the half. That didn’t stop the Wolverines, though. With their star riding the pine, the created some separation going up by double digits at one point.
To take back control, Luke Hancock started to unload his magic from beyond the arc, nailing 3 triples in a row in about a minute to close the gap to 4. Then his fourth closed the gap to 1. After that a Montrezl Harrell ally-oop put the Cards on top right before halftime. However a couple of Wolverine free throws gave them a 38-37 halftime lead. Hancock answered Albrecht’s 17 points with 16 of his own.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton