A roller-coaster first half, which had Twitter in a frenzy of hyperbole, led to a grinding second half, and in the end experience won out as Louisville knocked off Michigan 82-76 to win Rick Pitino's second career men's basketball title, making him the first coach to win it all at two different schools.
Like any championship event, there were winners and there were losers, so as midnight approaches while I type this, here are my stream of conscious winners and losers from Monday night's spine-tingler:
4. Luke Hancock The list of the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player has many names who were considered among the all-time college basketball greats -- Isiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing, Akeem (Hakeem) Olajuwon, Christian Laettner, to name a few. It also includes several "hot hand" role players -- Anderson Hunt, Donald Williams, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Ellington. Considering he averaged 7.7 points per game during the season, and 6.3 points per game during the first four games of the tournament, I feel safe putting Hancock and his 21 points per game in the tournament on 73 percent shooting in the latter category.
3. Peyton Siva Numbers are funny. You glance at the box score, and you see Trey Burke shot 7 for 11 from the field and had 24 points, and you'd think that he was the better of the two point guards, especially seeing that Siva shot 6 for 15 from the field. But Siva had an assist/steal to turnover ratio of 9 to 2, compared to Burke's 3 to 4, and then there's the intangible way in which Siva controls tempo and finds his guys in perfect spots. I love Siva's game. I'm going to hate him when he gets drafted by the Spurs with like the 55th pick or something.
2. Rick Pitino Over the last few years, Pitino is a guy who's had his good days (numerous, actually) and his bad days (well-documented, and most of them involving tables, Porcini's, and Karen Sypher). Monday may have been his best day. Winning a second title and being named to the basketball Hall of Fame in the same day. Does it get any better than that? It's a long way from this....
1. Dolph Ziggler About the time the two teams were being introduced in CBS, Ziggler was finally cashing in his Money In The Bank title shot on Monday night RAW, beating a softened up Alberto Del Rio over on the USA Network to take the WWE World Title. 24 hours too late (Ziggler doing this at Wrestlemania the night before was practically necessary to save a seriously lackluster pay per view), but better late than never. (Yeah, my number one winner on Monday night was a WWE wrestler. Don't you know me by now?)
4. Best players on each team Before the game, the top two choices on the board for Most Outstanding Player were Louisville's Russ Smith (-200) and Michigan's Trey Burke (+300), fresh off being named the 2012-13 Wooden Award winner. Both left the game in the first half with foul trouble and what ensued was the most entertaining ten-minute stretch of basketball of the night, largely fueled by spunky (chose that over "scrappy" and "feisty") backup Michigan point guard Spike Albrecht's five three-pointers. Jon Beilein may have rode that Albrecht horse a little too long, but damn was it a fun stretch of hoops in that first half.
3. Spike Albrecht Hard to call a backup who came off the bench to shoot 6 of 9 and score 17 points a "loser," and to be fair, Albrecht far outdid anything people expected from him. But damn, when he was raining threes on Louisville in the first half, he was approaching Manziel folk hero Twitter-worship levels. Hopefully, Spikey managed to squeeze in spring break, a trip to the casino, and a guest spot on Letterman at halftime. Appropriately, Albrecht played 15 minutes in the first half, because at halftime his 15 minutes were up. Second half? 0 for 2 and two turnovers.
That said, you got to admire a man who likes to ride a good heat check:
@kateupton hey saw you at the game last night, thanks for coming out! Hope to see you again
— spike albrecht (@SpikeAlbrecht) April 9, 2013
2. One bad call Overall, I would say the referees did a pretty decent job, despite the occasional flurry of first person dissenters on Twitter (Honestly, if you're using pronouns like "we" and "us" to describe your disgust with the officials, how can you be taken seriously?). That said, if you want to point to one call that may have been a game changer, circle the 5:13 mark. With Michigan trailing 67-64, Trey Burke appears to block a Peyton Siva breakaway layup, but the referee sees it differently and calls a foul on Burke. So instead of being down three with the ball, Siva hits two foul shots to put the Cardinals up five. Louisville goes on a 9-2 run to go up 76-66 and Michigan never gets to within a possession for the rest of the game. Game over.
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1. Rick Pitino Yeah, he won his second title. Yeah, he was named to the basketball Hall of Fame. But he also disclosed after the game that he promised his players he would get a tattoo if they won the title. The only thing more ridiculous than an old person with a tattoo is an old person who willingly gets a tattoo once they are old! If I may make a suggestion, using the Porcini's exploits as a catalyst, um, tramp stamp, please? Terrelle Pryor knows a good tattoo guy, Coach.
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