CAPTION: Apr 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the first half of the championship game in the 2013 NCAA mens Final Four against the Michigan Wolverines at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Old Glory road
What better way to start the game that will determine our national champion than to cover the floor in the Stars & Stripes? As the Georgia Dome in Atlanta was immersed in patriotism, Travis Tritt sang the National Anthem to get things going Monday night. Once he was done, the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals and No. 4-seed Michigan Wolverines took the floor in the NCAA championship game. What ensued was a game for the ages — with a host of wild fans of all ages in attendance. You don't want to miss any of this.
Bringin' down the house
Travis Tritt was quite the opening act with the National Anthem. Then the players proved a worthy headliner.
Two sides of the story
The thrill of victory and agony of defeat are rarely shown so distinctly in the same photo. Here, Michigan star Trey Burke walks off the court in sadness as streamers fall around him and the Louisville team celebrates its win.
Louisville fans, players and coaches crowd one side of the court as Louisville's Kevin Ware is shown on the big screen at center court cutting down the net.
Man of the people
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino (middle) poses with his family after winning his second career national championship and first since 1996.
Won it for Ware
The story of the tournament was that of Kevin Ware (center), who suffered a gruesome injury and missed the finals. But his emotional support and courage after his injury spawned a "Win It for Ware" campaign and he became the team's emotional leader on the sideline. Despite not playing, he got to cut down the net and celebrate with everyone else.
Kings of the mountain
Louisville guard Peyton Siva (center) holds the prized NCAA championship trophy after the Cardinals beat Michigan.
The Louisville cheerleaders perform during the second half of the championship game.
Master and pupil
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino talks to guard Peyton Siva (3) during the second half.
Michigan forward Jordan Morgan (52) falls hard to the ground against Louisville Cardinals forward Montrezl Harrell (24).
No pain, no gain
Michigan guard and Wooden Award winner Trey Burke (3) reacts after falling hard on his head during the second half.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino high-fives guard Peyton Siva (3) at the end of the first half.
Fight for it
Michigan forward Jordan Morgan (52) battles for a rebound with Louisville center Gorgui Dieng (10) during the second half.
Wrath of Pitino
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reacts less than favorably to a foul call during the first half.
Along for the ride
Louisville fans cheer on their team during the first half.
All on the line
Louisville's Luke Hancock (right) and Michigan's Jordan Morgan (left) and Spike Albrecht (middle) all sacrifice their bodies and dive on the floor for a loose ball during the first half.
Louisville's Luke Hancock communicates with his teammates during the second half. Hancock was the hero of the first half for Louisville and was named MVP after the Cardinals' win.
Louisville's Peyton Siva reacts after a foul call during the second half.
View from above
This is what the opening tip looked like from the rafters of the Georgia Dome.
And we're off!
Louisville center Gorgui Dieng (in white) and Michigan forward Mitch McGary get things going at the opening tip.
The 'Win It For Ware' mantra has certainly taken on a life of its own, as all of Cardinal nation makes Kevin Ware's inspiring recovery from his horrific broken leg its rallying cry. Here, fans sport their support and love for the injured guard before the game. It's almost as if Ware doesn't even need to be in the building to inspire the Louisville faithful.
Well, at least we know what he looks like
Louisville fan Tara Pierce, 19, holds an over-sized photo of Kevin Ware before the game. So they have a slogan and a giant mug shot. Seems like only one thing is missing.
Kevin is in the building!
There was no doubt Ware was going to be in the Georgia Dome with his Cardinals — and his giant fan club.
Party in the front ...
Nick Pappe of Louisville can't wear a jersey with his favorite players on the bench, but he certainly did the next-best thing at the Georgia Dome.
... all business in the back
Not only was Pappe dressed for the occasion; he came with a message for the haters.
Anything you can do
Unlike Pappe, Alex Lowenstein of West Bloomfield, Mich., didn't need paint to show his love for his team. He just shaved the Michigan logo M into his chest hair.
Hats work, too
This guy stayed classy with his torso, but got wild with his headwear.
Former Michigan players — and three-fifths of the Fab Five — from left: Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Jalen Rose stand in the crowd, cheering on their Wolverines. Forward Juwan Howard was also in the stands with them and, after much debate and goading from Rose, Chris Webber showed up to the Georgia Dome shortly before tip.
Talk about highs and lows
The guy who got off to the best start on Monday night was Michigan's national Player of the Year Trey Burke. But after seven quick points on 3-of-4 shooting, Burke picked up his second early foul and spent more than half of the opening 20 minutes on the bench.
I can see it in your eyes
A Louisville fan cheers before the game gets going.
We know you now
Not many people knew about Spike Albrecht before the title game. Coming off the bench to hit all four of your 3-point shots and score 17 points in the first half? That'll get you name in the paper — and on the Web.
Well, that didn't last long
Early on Monday, Louisville coach Rick Pitino learned he was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. If he smiled, it wasn't for long. Shortly after the opening tip of the championship game, he turned into this.
Anything Pitino can do ...
Pitino may be the Hall of Famer, but Michigan coach John Beilein shows he can yell at refs with the best of 'em.
Apr 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Leopold of Goodrich, Michigan dressed as a storm trooper before the championship game in the 2013 NCAA mens Final Four at the Georgia Dome.
Keeping it close
While Michigan's Spike Albrecth was stealing the show with his early barrage of 3's, guys like Chane Behanan were going to the hole and getting easy 2's, keeping the Cardinals close in the first half — even earning a one-point lead at the half.
Who you rooting for?
Former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo went to Georgetown. On Monday night he was in the Georgia Dome. Unless he is supporting Louisville to show his love for the soon-to-be-a-lot-less-interesting Big East, we're not sure who he wanted to see win. "Not in my house!" ... Sorry, we had to do it.
Is this a basketball game or a debate?
These Louisville fans brought what looks like a political poster to show support for guard Russ Smith. We're guessing they'd vote him into office if he ran, too.
Got any tips for Pitino?
Louisville coach Rick Pitino was voted into the Hall of Fame on Monday. Former Louisville coach Denny Crum was voted in 19 years ago. One thing Crum did know going into Monday's game: Regardless of the outcome, he was going to leave the Georgia Dome still the school's leader in national championships as coach. Prior to 2013, he coached the Cardinals to their only two titles, in 1980 and 1986.