NCAA BK

NCAA championship game blog

Rick Pitino's getting a tattoo. Find out what his players think it should be.
Rick Pitino's getting a tattoo. Find out what his players think it should be.
FOX Sports NCAA TOURNAMENT
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Louisville looked the latest Cinderella story right in the eye, then smashed it like a glass slipper.

Louisville guard Kevin Ware, on crutches with a broken leg, cuts down the net.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Maybe that's the tattoo Rick Pitino will get now.

The top-seeded Cardinals clamped down on Michigan and freshman Spike Albrecht, who stole the show in the first half, then battled back to win a thrilling NCAA championship game, 82-76.

After a bummer of a week for college hoops, this instant classic was just what the game needed, FOXSports.com college hoops columnist Reid Forgrave writes.

Louisville senior point guard Peyton Siva gave Naismith Award winner Trey Burke a physical battle, after Luke Hancock kept Louisville alive with 16 of his 22 points in the first half. The Cards completed their "Win for Ware" quest in honor of injured teammate Kevin Ware, who got to cut down the net despite being on crutches with a broken leg, as the rim was lowered to him.

"I had the 13 toughest guys I ever coached," said Pitino, who became the first coach to win titles at more than one school.

Afterward, Pitino, who was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier in the day, said he'd fulfill a promise he made to the players: win the championship and he'd get a tattoo.

Surprised? We weren't. Reid Forgrave predicted Louisville would win, and we somehow foresaw Pitino's ink:

It's the third championship for Louisville, and first since 1986. For Trey Burke and Michigan, it's the disappointing end to an amazing season.

POLL

  • What tattoo should Rick Pitino get?
    • Ware's No. 5 on his back
    • His face on Mount Rushmore
    • Calipari's lips ... on his butt
    • Louisville logo over shaved head

''We feel bad about it," Coach John Beilein said. "There are some things we could have done better and get a win, but at the same time, Louisville is a terrific basketball team. We have not seen that quickness anywhere.''

The Iron Sheik tweeted, "Michigan have the Chris Webber curse but still i respect them" ... then cursed Hulk Hogan.

Siva scored most of his 18 points in the second half and connected with Montrezl Harrell for the Louisville's first lead and the highlight of the night. Hancock, who was the first-ever reserve named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, kept Louisville in it in the first half to rally the Cards from a 12-point deficit, and drew a fourth foul on Michigan big man Mitch McGary that sent him to the bench with nine minutes left in the game. It was an extra special game for Hancock, whose ill father was watching from the crowd, FOX Sports South's Zach Dillard writes.

Albrecht was on fire in the first half, scoring 17 points from out of nowhere.

Albrecht averages 1.8 points a game. Played a career-high 15 minutes at Michigan State (Feb. 12) and vs. VCU (March 23) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

 

Albrecht, whose nickname comes from his first pair of baseball spikes showed he's a pretty good hoops player, hitting 6 of his first 7 shots while going 4 of 4 on 3's. He set a tourney record for consecutive makes without a miss, hitting his first nine 3's dating back to March 3 before missing one.

 

 

Pitino said he told Russ Smith, "I know you wanna outplay Trey Burke, but the other guy is kickin' your ass all over the place."

The Cards listened, and Albrecht was shut out in the second half.

Charles Barkley praised Pitino, saying he "called a couple great timeouts to stop momentum." The only thing that rattled Pitino was the fireworks at the end of the game.

 

 

Burke, who struggled against Syracuse in the Final Four, had seven early points but sat for 12 minutes after picking up his second foul, allowing Louisville to get back in it and drawing criticism of Beilein from Greg Anthony and Doug Gottlieb.

"You can't win a game in the first half, but you can lose it," Gottlieb said.

 

 

Burke finished with a game-high 24 points, but could never regain the momentum for Michigan. And calls like the foul call on Burke's block of a breakaway layup by Siva left UM fans crying foul.

 

 

Chris Webber wasn't sitting with his old mates, but the Fab Five were in the building together for the first time since 1993.

 

C-WEBB IN THE HOUSE

Webber was at the game after all, after Jalen Rose called him out Monday  morning, announcing that all the members of Michigan's famed Fab Five but Webber had committed to appearing at the Georgia Dome to cheer on the Wolverines.

"I could understand if he was homeless and living under a bridge," Rose said on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" show, but Webber lives in Atlanta and works for the host network, he noted.

Webber has been estranged from Michigan since a booster scandal stung the school with sanctions, which included banning him from contact with the program for 10 years. That ban officially ends next month, but Webber attended the game as a fan. However, he appeared to watch from a private box and did not join his ex-teammates in the crowd.

Read more ...

 

 

CAN LOUISVILLE WOMEN WIN IT TOO?

The Louisville women's team watched the men's victory over Michigan in their New Orleans hotel lobby with hundreds of fans.

If the women can pull off the monumental upset and beat Connecticut tonight, the school will become the second to win both national championships in the same season. UConn accomplished the feat in 2004.

Pitino said he plans to be there to cheer them on.

Read more ...

Louisville fans showing support for Kevin Ware:

And some just showing support ... in their own way.

Michigan fans stormed the Georgia Dome...

...but had the loneliest seats in the house at the end.

Newest Hall of Famers Gary Payton and Jerry Tarkanian were in the house:

The view from LeBron's couch. Guess all that money doesn't buy fine dining ware.

 

Finally, clearly this Louisville win didn't earn any respect from Kentucky fans.

Tagged: Louisville, Michigan, Wichita State, Syracuse, Rutgers, Rice, Luke Hancock, Peyton Siva, Tim Hardaway Jr., Tim Henderson

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