#1 Louisville Beats #4 Michigan 82-76 for Its 3rd National Championship in the 2013 March Madness Tournament

National Championship Game:

#1 Louisville Eliminates #4 Michigan 82-76 to Claim the Title

 Michigan started the game like a house on fire. Associated Press Player of the Year Trey Burke, who was held to 1-for-8 shooting against Syracuse in the Wolverines qualifying game, hit his first 3 shots and scored 7 points before the Louisville players could turn around and defend. Then Burke picked up his 2nd foul with 15:34 left to play in the 1st half and sat on the bench until halftime, because Michigan Coach John Beilein doesn’t play guys with 2 fouls in the 1st half. No exceptions, not even for Burke, the national Player of the Year.
 Enter 5-foot-11 backup freshman guard Spike Albrecht, who had averaged 1.8 points per game and had not scored more than 7 points in a game all season—that’s what happens when you play behind Trey Burke.
 Albrecht went crazy good, canning 4 straight 3-point attempts and scoring 17 points to keep Michigan in the game during the 1st half. Albrecht even blew by Tim Henderson with a brilliant hesitation move in driving to the basket. He was fearless.
 But Louisville had its own bench player, a guy named Luke Hancock, who also hit 4 straight from 3-point land on his way to scoring 22 points. Hancock also scored 20 points coming off the bench against Syracuse when the Wolverines were 12 points down and came back to beat the Orange.
 Louisville was down 12 to Michigan in the 1st half but rebounded and was only 1 point behind at halftime. Spike Albrecht went cold in the 2nd half (he missed his only 2 shots) while Luke Hancock kept right on truckin’, buying a 3 from the corner with 3:20 remaining to give his Cardinals their biggest lead, and then putting the wrapper on it by canning 2 free throws with 29 seconds left to ice the win.
 Louisville’s national title was its 3rd. The Cardinals won in 1980 and 1986, 27 years ago. By winning, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino became the first men’s coach in NCAA history to win national championships at two schools (he won the 1996 national title coaching the Kentucky Wildcats).
 Louisville became the 7th No. 1 seed to win the title among the last 9 championship games, so usually a No. 1 seed does prevail more often than not (78% of the time). The Cardinals have never lost in their 3 championship games.
 Michigan started 3 freshmen in the game (6-10 forward Mitch McGary, 6-6 forward Glenn Robinson III and 6-6 guard Nik Stauskas) and played 2 more (5-11 guard Spike Albrecht and 6-5 guard Chris LeVert).
 The Louisville-Michigan hype delivered—it was an exciting, dramatic contest from start to finish. Michigan had game, Louisville had just a little more game.

National Semifinals:

#1 Louisville eliminated #9 Wichita State 72-68

 Wichita State had it going on with a 12-point lead and 13:35 remaining. Louisville’s starters were struggling, picking up fouls and looking very vulnerable. Then Luke Hancock exploded with 20 points coming off the bench, Tim Henderson dropped a pair of 3-pointers and Peyton Silva made a big layup, and the Cardinals came roaring back. The Shockers had one last chance, pulling to 68-66 on a tip-in with 22 seconds to go, but they had to foul and both Russ Smith and Luke Hancock made their free throws. Goodbye, Wichita State, after a great run into the Final 4.

#4 Michigan eliminated #4 Syracuse 61-56

 A game billed as Syracuse’s suffocating, 3-2 zone defense against Michigan’s fast-break, explosive offense lived up to its billing.
 The Orange gave up only 34 points to Montana, 50 to top-seeded #1 Indiana in an upset, and 39 to Marquette as all 3 teams were held to their lowest output this season. Syracuse’s 4 tournament opponents shot a combined 29% from the field and 15% from 3-point range.
 The Michigan Wolverines averaged 78+ points in their 4 games coming in, and had romped over Florida, one of the nation’s best defensive teams, by 20 points.
 Michigan led at the half, 36-25, by draining 3-point shots, making some great passes to the paint and looking fearless in the process.
 That said, Syracuse has a change to force overtime, trailing 58-56, when Brandon Triche was called for a foul as Jordan Morgan stepped in to take a charge with 19 seconds left.
 Associated Press Player of the Year, Michigan’s sophomore guard Trey Burke was struggling (he made only one shot from the field), but two freshmen came off the bench to help—Chris LeVert scored 8 points and Spike Albrecht scored 6, all of them crucial when the Wolverines went cold in the 2nd half.
 Michigan started 3 freshmen—6-10 forward Mitch McGary, 6-6 forward Glenn Robinson III and 6-6 guard Nik Stauskas from Canada. If you get the idea that Michigan is loaded with freshman talent, you are right. The Wolverines might not have won this game without freshman Mitch McGary. They most certainly would not have made it to the Final 4 without McGary.
 This critical win set up Michigan with a chance to win its first national title against Louisville. 

Round 6 – The Final 4:

#1 Louisville eliminated #9 Wichita State 72-68

#4 Michigan eliminated #4 Syracuse 61-56

It’s #1 Louisville Against #9 Wichita State and #4 Syracuse Against #4 Michigan in the NCAA Final 4 at March Madness as #1 Kansas, #1 Indiana, #1 Gonzaga, #2 Duke, #2 Ohio State, #2 Miami (FL) and #2 Georgetown Are All Eliminated

2013 NCAA Final 4 Field of Qualifiers

East Regional:

#4 Syracuse

 Syracuse upset #1 Indiana by 11 and upset #3 Marquette by 16
 Marquette upset #2 Miami (FL) by 10 with some physical play that resulted scoring 40 of its 71 points in the paint (Miami played without its injured, top rebounder Reggie Johnson), but the Golden Eagles were no match for Jim Boeheim’s trapping, shot-challenging 2-3 zone as Syracuse held Marquette to a meager 39 total points.
 Syracuse’s 2-3 zone forced #1 Indiana into 19 turnovers while blocking 10 shots.
 The Syracuse Orange players have held opponents to 37% shooting this season, 3rd best in the nation, and just 28% from 3-point range, 4th best in the nation.
 Coach Jim Boeheim has won 915 games at Syracuse, 2nd best in Division I Men’s Basketball history. 
 Syracuse will face Michigan for the right to play in the national championship game that pits the Syracuse 2-3 zone against Michigan’s Wolverines, who rank 1st in the nation in offensive efficiency.

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville

 Louisville beat #12 Oregon by 8 and beat #2 Duke by 22
 Louisville, the only surviving #1 left in this year’s March Madness Tournament, has proven itself to be the team to beat.
 The Cardinals average margin of victory in 4 games is 21+.
 With 6:33 left in the 1st half, Louisville’s Kevin Ware tried to block a 3-point attempt and ended up snapping his right leg between his ankle and knee, causing a double compound fracture as the 6-inch break broke though his skin in a horrible accident that left some Cardinal players crying over him as medics came to assist Ware.
 Louisville Coach Rick Pitino said he nearly threw up when he saw Ware’s injury, he literally cried, and later said, “Basically, the bone popped out of the skin. It broke in two spots. Remember the bone is six inches out of his leg, and all he’s yelling is ‘Win the game, win the game’. I’ve never seen anything like that.” No kidding, coach, you and millions of viewers online, not to mention the fans at the game.
 The Duke Blue Devils never recovered after Ware’s injury and, of course, Louisville, played their hearts out for Ware and advanced to the Final 4.  

South Regional:

#4 Michigan

 Michigan upset #1 Kansas by 2 and upset #3 Florida by 20
 Three Wolverines gave Florida fits—Sophomore Guard Trey Burke, the South Region’s MVP, scored 15 points, Freshman Guard Nik Stauskas, an import from Canada, scored 22 points while making all 6 of his 3-pointers, and 6-foot-10 Freshman Forward Mitch McGary had 11 points and 9 rebounds.
 Michigan last reached the Final 4 in 1993, 20 years ago, with the Fab Five—Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King.
 Kansas blew its game against Michigan. The Jayhawks were up by 14 points with less than 7 minutes left, and up by 5 points with 21 seconds left, and still managed to lose on a jumbled possession that gave Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III the ball and he canned a reverse layup, forcing Kansas to win the game at the free throw line, and the Jayhawks couldn’t. Trey Burke, who scored all 23 of his points in the 2nd half, drained a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.
 Against Kansas, Mitch McGary, still a freshman, led Michigan with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Yikes! How long is he going to be playing at Michigan?

West Regional:

#9 Wichita State

 Wichita State beat #13 La Salle by 14 and upset #2 Ohio State by 4
 The Wichita State Shockers are, well, shocking. They are only the 5th team seeded 9th or lower to reach the Final 4 since seeding began in 1979, and the 2nd in 3 years following 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University’s improbable run in 2011.
 Wichita State came to win against Ohio State, and Ohio State came to play—foolish Buckeyes. Wichita State was up by 20 with 11 minutes to play when the Buckeyes got serious, but it was too little, too late, and they deserved to lose.
 Wichita State has to have the most unknown players among the Final 4 teams. The Shockers finished 2nd to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference, but they most certainly peaked at just the right time for March Madness. Maybe everyone following the tournament will know their starting 5 if they win the national championship. You say it could never happen, well, that’s what 99% of fans said when someone mentioned that the Wichita State Shockers could make it the Final 4.

Round 5 – Elite 8 Regional Finals:

East Regional:

#3 Marquette was upset by #4 Syracuse 55-39

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville eliminated #2 Duke 85-63

South Regional:

#3 Florida was upset by #4 Michigan 79-59

West Regional:

#2 Ohio State was upset by #9 Wichita State 70-66

Round 5 – Sweet 16 Regional Finals:

East Regional:

#3 Marquette was upset by #4 Syracuse 55-39

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville eliminated #2 Duke 85-63

South Regional:

#3 Florida was upset by #4 Michigan 79-59

West Regional:

#2 Ohio State was upset by #9 Wichita State 70-66

#6 Arizona, #9 Wichita State, #12 Oregon, #13 La Salle and #15 Florida Gulf Coast All Make It Into the Sweet 16 at March Madness

2013 NCAA Sweet 16 Field of Qualifiers

Round 4 – The Regional Semifinals:

East Regional:

#1 Indiana and #4 Syracuse

#2 Miami (FL) and #3 Marquette

 Indiana beat James Madison by 21 and Temple by 6.
 Miami (FL) beat Pacific by 29 and Illinois by 4.
 Marquette beat Davidson by 1 and Butler by 2.
 Syracuse beat Montana by 47 and California by 6.
 So who’s in here on a wing and a prayer? Try Marquette, a Jesuit, Roman Catholic university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Davidson led Marquette by 7 with 1:49 to play, and by 4 with 20 seconds left, but an errant pass with 6 seconds left opened the door for Marquette’s Vander Blue to can the winning basket with 1 second left. Marquette then beat Butler by 2 points, so a 3-point victory margin over two games and the Golden Eagles are in the Sweet 16. A real mystery: Why did Davidson Coach Bob McKillop not call a timeout at the end? He had 5 chances to call a timeout in the final 90 seconds of the game, but chose to keep playing when he could have set up an offensive play.
 The East was the strongest Regional this year as all 4 top seeds made it into the Sweet 16. The Midwest and East Regionals advanced three top 4′s and the West had to settle for only one, thanks to #6 Arizona, #9 Wichita State and #13 La Salle.
 The Big Ten, arguably the most competitive conference this season, has a team in all 4 Regional Semifinals–#1 Indiana in the East, #3 Michigan State in the Midwest, #4 Michigan in the South, and #2 Ohio State in the West.

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville and #12 Oregon

#2 Duke and #3 Michigan State

 Louisville beat North Carolina A&T by 31 and Colorado State by 26.
 Duke beat Albany by 12 and Creighton by 16.
 Michigan State beat Valparaiso by 11 and Memphis by 22.
 Oregon upset #5 Oklahoma State by 13 and upset #4 St. Louis by 17.
 No team in the field of 64 was more dominant than Louisville in their first 2 games, winning twice by a combined margin of 57.
 Oregon was a 12 seed that came from behind the bleachers to put a spanking on both Oklahoma State and St. Louis.

South Regional:

#1 Kansas and #4 Michigan

#3 Florida and #15 Florida Gulf Coast

 Kansas beat Western Kentucky by 7 and North Carolina by 12.
 Florida beat Northwestern State by 32 and Minnesota by 14,
 Michigan beat South Dakota State by 15 and Virginia Commonwealth by 25.
 Florida Gulf Coast upset #2 Georgetown by 10 and upset #7 San Diego State by 10.
 Beating Georgetown meant the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles became only the 7th #15 seed to beat a #2 seed in tournament history. Even more important, by beating San Diego State, Florida Gulf Coast became the first #15 seed in tournament history to reach the Sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast also became only the 8th team seeded 13th or lower to ever reach the Sweet 16 Regional Semifinals. The others were #14 Cleveland State in 1986, #13 Richmond in 1988, #14 Chattanooga in 1997, #13 Valparaiso in 1998, #13 Oklahoma in 1999, #13 Bradley in 2006, and #13 Ohio in 2012. All of them lost their first game in Sweet 16 competition, opening the door for #15 Florida Gulf Coast to become the first 13th or lower seed to win a Sweet 16 game—all the Eagles have to do is beat in-state rival #3 Florida with Coach Billy Donovan and his Gators, something that will be easier said than done. Donovan and Florida won back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles only became eligible for post-season play last year. Maybe Coach Andy Enfield should be considered for Coach of the Year.
 Coach Bill Self and his Kansas Jayhawks got the best of Coach Roy Williams and his North Carolina Tar Heels in a game in which the Jayhawks would miss 11 consecutive shots and the Tar Heels would miss 12 consecutive shots. No matter, Kansas outscored North Carolina 49-28 in the 2nd half to win by 12. Jeff Withey had a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Travis Releford added 22 points. 
 
West Regional:

#2 Ohio State and #6 Arizona

#9 Wichita State and #13 La Salle

 Ohio State beat Iona by 15 and Iowa State by 3.
 Arizona beat Belmont by 17 and Harvard by 23.
 Wichita State upset #8 Pittsburgh by 18 and #1 Gonzaga by 6.
 La  Salle upset #4 Kansas State by 2 and upset #12 Ole Miss by 2.
 Gonzaga was not ready for The Madness – The Bulldogs were lucky to get by #16 seed Southern University (almost becoming the first #1 seed in tournament history to get beat by a #16 seed), and then got totally found out by Wichita State.
 Ohio State needed a 3-pointer by Aaron Craft with a half-second left to beat Iowa State.
 The West was the weakest Regional this year—5 of the top 8 seeds never made it past their opening game as #3 New Mexico, #4 Kansas State, #5 Wisconsin, #7 Notre Dame and #8 Pittsburgh all came up sucking Louisiana pond water. That’s why Wichita State and La Salle were among the Sweet 16. La Salle won its two games by a total of 4 points.

Round 4 – Sweet 16 Regional Semifinals:

East Regional:

#1 Indiana was upset by #4 Syracuse 61-50

#2 Miami (FL) was upset by #3 Marquette 71-61

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville eliminated #12 Oregon 77-69

#2 Duke eliminated #3 Michigan State 71-61

South Regional:

#1 Kansas was upset by #4 Michigan 87-85

#3 Florida eliminated #15 Florida Gulf Coast 62-50

West Regional:

#2 Ohio State eliminated #6 Arizona 73-70

#9 Wichita State eliminated #13 La Salle 72-58

Round 3 Results: 

East Regional:

#1 Indiana eliminated #9 Temple 58-52 (+6)

#2 Miami (FL) eliminated #7 Illinois 63-59 (+4)

#3 Marquette eliminated #6 Butler 74-72 (+2)

#4 Syracuse eliminated #12 California 66-60 (+6)

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville eliminated #8 Colorado State 82-56 (+26)

#2 Duke eliminated #7 Creighton 66-50 (+16)

#3 Michigan State eliminated #6 Memphis 70-48 (+22)

#4 St. Louis was upset by #12 Oregon 74-57 (+17)

South Regional:

#1 Kansas eliminated #8 North Carolina 70-58 (+12)

#3 Florida eliminated #11 Minnesota 78-64 (+14)

#4 Michigan eliminated #5 Virginia Commonwealth 78-53 (+25)

#7 San Diego State was upset by #15 Florida Gulf Coast 81-71 (+10)

West Regional:

#1 Gonzaga was upset by #9 Wichita State 76-70 (+6)

#2 Ohio State eliminated #10 Iowa State 78-75 (+3)

#6 Arizona eliminated #14 Harvard 74-51 (+23)

#12 Ole Miss was upset by #13 La Salle 76-74 (+2)

Round 2 Results:

East Regional:

#1 Indiana eliminated #16 James Madison 83-62 (+21)

#2 Miami (FL) eliminated #15 Pacific 78-49 (+29)

#3 Marquette eliminated #14 Davidson 59-58 (+1)

#4 Syracuse eliminated #13 Montana 81-34 (+47)

#5 UNLV was upset by #12 California 64-61 (+3)

#6 Butler eliminated #11 Bucknell 68-56 (+12)

#7 Illinois eliminated #10 Colorado 57-49 (+8)

#8 North Carolina State was upset by #9 Temple 76-72 (+4)

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville eliminated #16 North Carolina A&T 79-48 (+31)

#2 Duke eliminated #15 Albany 73-61 (+12)

#3 Michigan State eliminated #14 Valparaiso 65-54 (+11)

#4 St. Louis eliminated #13 New Mexico State 64-44 (+20)

#5 Oklahoma State was upset by #12 Oregon 68-55 (+13)

#6 Memphis eliminated #11 St. Mary’s 54-52 (+2)

#7 Creighton eliminated #10 Cincinnati 67-63 (+4)

#8 Colorado State eliminated #9 Missouri 84-72 (+12)

South Regional:

#1 Kansas eliminated #16 Western Kentucky 65-57 (+7)

#2 Georgetown was upset by #15 Florida Gulf Coast 78-68 (+10)

#3 Florida eliminated #14 Northwestern State 79-47 (+32)

#4 Michigan eliminated #13 South Dakota State 71-56 (+15)

#5 Virginia Commonwealth eliminated #12 Akron 88-42 (+46)

#6 UCLA was upset by #11 Minnesota 83-63 (+20)

#7 San Diego State eliminated #10 Oklahoma 70-55 (+15)

#8 North Carolina eliminated #9 Villanova 78-71 (+7)

West Regional:

#1 Gonzaga eliminated #16 Southern 64-58 (+6)

#2 Ohio State eliminated #15 Iona 95-70 (+15)

#3 New Mexico was upset by #14 Harvard 68-62 (+6)

#4 Kansas State was upset by #13 La Salle 63-61 (+2)

#5 Wisconsin was upset by #12 Ole Miss 57-46 (+11)

#6 Arizona eliminated #11 Belmont 81-64 (+17)

#7 Notre Dame was upset by #10 Iowa State 76-58 (+18)

#8 Pittsburgh was upset by #9 Wichita State 73-55 (+18)

Round 1 Results:

East Regional:

#16 James Madison eliminated #16 LIU-Brooklyn 68-55 (+13) in the Play-In Game

Midwest Regional:

#11 St. Mary’s eliminated #11 Middle Tennessee 67-54 (+13) in the Play-In Game

#16 North Carolina A&T eliminated #16 Liberty 73-32 (+1) in the Play-In Game

West Regional:

#13 La Salle eliminated #13 Boise State 80-71 (+9) in the Play-In Game

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