The Louisville Cardinals overcame the Michigan Wolverines to win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship 82-76. The win gave the Cardinals their third basketball national championship in school history and first championship since 1986. Rick Pitino, coach of Louisville, became the first coach to win a national championship with two different schools, previously winning with Kentucky in 1996.
Michigan came out of the gate with a bang in the first half. Riding the hot hand of freshman guard Spike Albrecht, the Wolverines held a 12-point lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. Albrecht had 17 points and was 4-5 from three point land in the first half alone. However, with Michigan’s Player Of The Year sophomore guard Trey Burke on the sideline with foul trouble, the Cardinals came storming back and ended the half on a 14-2 run lead by junior forward Luke Hancock who hit four three pointers in a row.
The game remained close for much of the second half until another Hancock three pointer gave Louisville a ten point lead with three minutes to go. Michigan’s star studded backcourt of sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. and Burke did their best to keep their team in the game but the Louisville defense held their ground. Despite shooting 52% for the game and 45% from behind the arc, Michigan could not overcome their deficit as the Cardinals made some key defensive stops down the stretch. The Cardinals out rebounded the Wolverines 31-28 and shot an impressive 50% from the three-point line.
Louisville seemed on a mission after losing junior guard Kevin Ware to a horrific leg injury in the regional finals game versus Duke. Social media and brands everywhere took off with slogans such as “Win For Ware.” Ware’s replacement, Luke Hancock, stepped in admirably as he finished with 22 points while hitting all five of his three point shots. Hancock was named player of the tournament and a fitting ending came when Ware was the last person to cut the nets off, capping a fantastic and emotional season.
The UConn Huskies blew out the Louisville Cardinals 93-60 to win their eighth national championship. The Huskies were lead by freshman Breanna Stewart who had 23 points, 18 of which were in the second half, to go along with nine rebounds. The championship gave UConn head coach, Geno Auriemma, his eighth championship in eight tries, which tied him with legendary women’s coach Pat Summitt.
“The only person I compare myself to is Pat Summitt and to be there in that spot with her means a lot to me,” Auriemma said. “The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record puts you in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach that ever lived.” – via ESPN
UConn has been known as a powerhouse over the past decade putting out players such as WNBA All-stars Dianna Turasi and Maya Moore. UConn had been facing stiff competition in recent years from programs such as Baylor, which boasted the best player in the NCAA in Brittany Griner, and Stanford, which snapped UConn’s 108 game winning streak. The win gave UConn their fifth championship in 10 years.
UConn trailed early but a 19-0 run put them up 29-16 and the lady Huskies never looked back. The huskies held the Cardinals to 31% shooting and outrebounded them 43-22. Meanwhile, the Huskies shot an impressive 53% from the field and 50% from the three-point line.
The Huskies simply outplayed the Cardinals who were looking to become the second team to win both the Men and Women’s Basketball National Championships in the same year. The only other team to accomplish this feat was their opponent, the UConn Huskies back in 2004. The Huskies hope to carry their momentum into the next season and should be favorites to win the tournament again as long as Geno Auriemma is coaching.