National championship instant analysis: Louisville claims title

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The Cardinals defeat Wolverines in thrilling title game for first championship since '86

<p> The Cardinals defeat Wolverines in thrilling title game for first championship since '86</p>

That was ... fun.
Louisville’s 82-76 win over Michigan was simply one of the best national title games in several years. Stars Trey Burke and Peyton Siva played at a high level with Burke hitting deep three-pointers and Siva stuffing the stat sheet. Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock were unexpected heroes. A lack of offense has been an ongoing theme this season, but the title game was the highest scoring championship game since 2009. Hard to believe this was the same game Connecticut and Butler played two years ago.

MVP: Luke Hancock
Hancock matched Michigan big shot for big shot in the first half on the way to 22 points. If you’re keeping track, that’s two 20-point games for Hancock in the Final Four. Off the bench. From a George Mason transfer.

Could also be an MVP: Peyton Siva
Siva turned in a relentless all-around performance, especially in the second half. The senior point guard finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Unsung hero: Chane Behanan
Behanan wasn’t one of Louisville’s top players for most of this run, but he could have been the best player on the floor in the title game as he dominated the glass with 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Behanan added 15 points.

Turning point: The block that wasn’t a block
Michigan was still in striking distance at the 5:01 mark when the Cardinals led 67-64. Peyton Siva bolted down the court on a fast break when Trey Burke went for the block on the layup. Replays appeared to indicate Burke got only the ball, but officials called a personal foul. Siva hit both free throws, Gorgui Dieng hit a pair of shots for a 6-1 Louisville run.

Where’d that come from? Albrecht’s treys
With Trey Burke on the bench with two fouls, Michigan freshman Spike Albrecht was the best player in the first half, quite a feat considering he averaged 1.8 points per game entering Monday night. Albrecht, whose only other scholarship offer came from Appalachian State, scored 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting in the first half. It wasn’t to last, though, as his matchup with Peyton Siva in the second half did not go so well.

Where’d he go? Russ Smith
Russ Smith’s run of 20-point games in the Tournament came to an abrupt end with an awful championship game in the offensive end. After five games as Dr. Jekyll, Smith’s Mr. Hyde game showed up Monday. Smith finished 3 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 from three-point range.

What was that? Michigan late to foul
Michigan narrowed the lead from 10 points to four in the final minute but inexplicably waited eight seconds to foul into the 30 second mark. Trey Burke was playing with four fouls, but Michigan wasted valuable time to attempt a comeback down the stretch.

History: Pitino’s second title
Louisville coach Rick Pitino became the first coach to win a national title at two schools with his Louisville title joining the 1996 championship at Kentucky.

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