Any coach would have a hell of a time topping Steve Fisher's championship game debut 24 years ago. But when you're making your title game debut at the same school where Fisher turned his trick, well, the comparisons are inevitable. To refresh: Fisher took over as head coach at Michigan just prior to the start of the 1989 NCAA tournament, after Bill Frieder resigned in controversy stemming from his taking the Arizona State job. Fisher proceeded to win six straight games and lead the Wolverines to what is still the only national championship in program history. Fast forward to today and, while Beilein has about six years on Fisher in terms of experience as the head man in Ann Arbor, a win in the title game — his first championship game appearance — over favored Louisville would be a surprise, and make Beilein a legend. Beilein would become the eighth coach in the past 30 years to win the championship in his first Final Four appearance. Beilein is 1-3 all-time against Pitino, with his only win coming as West Virginia coach in Morgantown in 2006. FOX Sports Detroit: Long road for Beilein
Who wants it?
What a wild season. Louisville lasted just one week as No. 1. Michigan managed only a week at the top, too. But here's the good news, guys: Whoever wins tonight will wear the crown for a while. It's the top-seeded Cardinals vs. the Wolverines in the NCAA Championship (9:23 p.m. ET). It's a big enough matchup by itself, but several storylines make it even more compelling. Three reasons Louisville will win Three reasons Michigan will win
Will Louisville men and women both win titles?
It's no surprise that Peyton Siva and the top-seeded Cardinals are in the championship game. They've won 15 straight while making the Final Four for the second straight year, and survived a scare by Cinderella Wichita State to reach the final. It's the fifth-seeded women's team that has been the big upstart, ending the college career of Baylor's Brittney Griner and stunning the defending champion Bears, who had won 78 of their past 79 games. Rick Pitino talked to the women's team at the end of the Big East tournament and it hasn't lost since. Louisville's ladies rallied past Cal to reach the final, the highest-seeded team to ever win in the women's Final Four. If both the men's and women's teams win, it will be just the second time in Division I history; UConn did it in 2004. Louisville teams share bond
Will Pitino be Hall of Famer and champ on same day?
The Louisville Cardinals head coach was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame today, and it will be twice as nice if he wins his second championship (Louisville is a four-point favorite). The way his luck has been going, we wouldn't bet against him. FORGRAVE: Meet one man who belongs in the Hall
It was the worst injury in the history of the NCAA tournament. Kevin Ware's broken leg reduced his Louisville teammates to tears, then his spirit inspired them to win for him. And they did it again in the Final Four, surviving a scare from Wichita State in part because Ware hobbled into a timeout to give them a pep talk. Now the Cardinals are one win from completing the mission. Ware does Top 10 List on Letterman
A double-double for the ages?
Sure, Trey Burke enters the championship game just 11 points shy of Chris Webber's school record for most career points by a player after his sophomore season. But Burke has a chance to put his name on a far more distinguished list: players who were named national Player of the Year and won a national championship in the same season. How distinguished is the list? Its first entrant was Lew Alcindor. Bill Walton did it twice. A Louisville player (Darrell Griffith, 1980) did it once, but Burke could be the first Wolverine to do it. Anthony Davis pulled off the feat last season, then went No. 1 overall in the draft. And, as evidenced by the Final Four, Burke doesn't even need to be on his game for Michigan to win. FORGRAVE: If Burke shows up, Michigan wins
Greatest. Weekend. Ever.
And we don't mean in college basketball. We mean in all of sports. Heck, how many people in the world can match what Rick Pitino could finish with on Monday. He's already in the NCAA championship game. OK, great. But get a load of this: On Saturday, shortly before Louisville beat Wichita State in a regional semifinal, a horse of which he is part-owner, Goldencents, won the Santa Anita Derby and is a Kentucky Derby contender. Last week, his son Richard was named the new head coach at Minnesota. And now, a big date with history awaits him on Monday night. If Louisville beats Michigan, Pitino becomes the first coach in Division I men's basketball history to win national championships with multiple schools (and at Kentucky and Louisville of all places). And he currently sits at 663 career wins, one victory behind the gold standard of coaches, John Wooden. Somebody, quick! Ask this guy his favorite lottery numbers! FORGRAVE: Pitino putting together legendary legacy
Big Ten REALLY needs a title
Over the past decade-plus, the Big East and ACC have taken the lead as basketball's power conferences. And thanks to the rise of mid-majors in tournament games, conferences like the Missouri Valley and Mountain West are held in much higher regard. So what's happened to the Big Ten? Traditional powers like Indiana and Michigan State have failed to reach the glory years of decades past. But this season was supposed to be different. Indiana was back. Michigan was back. Ohio State followed up a Final Four run with an experienced squad poised for great things. And now, in a season that Big Ten honks billed as a return to prominence, Michigan stands a game away from redemption for the conference. It has been 13 long years since Mateen Cleaves and Michigan State cut down the nets in Indianapolis. Since then, four Big Ten squads have fallen in the title game. In fact, the Big Ten hasn't won a title in basketball, football or baseball since 2002. Michigan, all Midwestern eyes are on you. FORGRAVE: Wichita State vows it will be back
One and done vs. years of fun
Michigan is the youngest team in the tournament. The Wolverines' leader, sophomore guard and national Player of the Year Trey Burke, is brash. They sport the fastest, most exciting offense in basketball. With three freshmen starting and five contributing, they draw comparisons to Michigan's famed Fab Five from 20 years ago. They represent what college hoops has become: young guys with first-round dreams and short college careers. By comparison, Louisville's players should be filling out their AARP membership applications when they aren't in the gym or the classroom. Of the five Cardinals to start at least 30 games this season, two are sophomores, two are juniors and one is a senior. Point guard Peyton Siva is the only player to have started every game this season — what feels like his seventh or eighth with the Cardinals. And while it would be hard to say Louisville is hurting for talent, one reason there are no one-and-doners in Pitinoville? You'd be hard-pressed to find anybody calling a current Cardinal a lottery prospect. Forgrave: Here's the REAL storyline for the championship
Going out on top?
As Louisville has marched through the bracket and into the title game at Atlanta, it also has done something else that carries with it much more emotion for far more people. Once the men's and women's finals are over, the Big East as we know it (as that black-and-blue, tried-and-true basketball power) will be over. So before they bolt for the ACC, the Cardinals can give the conference it leaves quite the send-off — particularly the women, who face UConn in a classic Big East battle. Top 20 Big East basketball legends
Can Mitch McGary cash his lottery ticket?
Before the NCAA tournament, the freshman forward had all of two starts and zero notoriety. He was, on a team of superstar guards, an afterthought. Now? Arguably the most dominant player in the tournament, McGary is getting lottery pick buzz. And it might be warranted: Just how far from out of nowhere has McGary come? In Big Ten play, he had two starts and averaged 6.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 19.4 minutes. In five tournament games, all starts, McGary is averaging 16 points and 11.6 rebounds in 31 minutes on a team-best 69.8-percent shooting. He has three double-doubles in his past four games. In the Final Four, he dominated Syracuse in a 61-56 win with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high six assists (in a career-high 36 minutes). He went for 25 and 14 in an 87-85 win over 1-seed Kansas in the Sweet 16. He has set career highs in points, field goals, rebounds, assists, minutes and steals in the NCAA tournament. From Danny Manning to Carmelo Anthony, history is filled with guys who parlayed a red-hot spring into a rich, green summer in the NBA Draft. One more big game from McGary and that list may just grow by one.