Louisville celebrates third NCAA title

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The crowd inside Cluckers, a bar and restaurant in the heart of Cardinal Towne on the University of Louisville campus, wasn’t waiting for the final seconds to tick off the clock in Monday night’s NCAA championship game. It had begun its celebration even though 50.1 seconds remained and Louisville’s lead over Michigan was just four points, 78-74.

Well, not everyone was celebrating. Sara Hartman, Lacey Bobo and Raine Thompson, former Louisville swimmers, and former volleyball player Maci Wachtel watched intently, understanding that the game was far from over. Not until the game was locked up did the quartet join in the celebration as the Cardinals won the school’s first national title since 1986, 82-76.

From there the crowd spilled out onto Cardinal Blvd. where authorities had blocked off the area around 3rd and 4th streets to contain the celebration. Fans chanted “C-A-R-D-S… Cards!”, honked horns and shot off the occasional firework in a relatively orderly manner for more than an hour.

The celebration escalated, however, and police in riot gear began dispersing the crowd at 12:45 a.m. following an incident that involved an arson officer and students jumping on him.

“It was actually a very tame and very positive celebration up until that point,” said U of L spokesman John Drees.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, there was expected to be about 200 metro police and corrections officers, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies, metro emergency-medical-services personnel and U of L police in place to handle the area celebrations. Approximately the same number was utilized Saturday night after Louisville beat Wichita St. in the national semifinals.

Following last year’s championship by in-state rival Kentucky, Lexington police made more than 50 arrests with 60 fires reported and more than 20 people taken to hospitals in the immediate aftermath of the Wildcats’ victory.
Authorities will be getting ready for Round 2 Tuesday night as Louisville takes on Connecticut for the women’s national championship. Drees said a similar plan will be in place, although a smaller crowd is expected.