Luke Hancock led Louisville in scoring with a career-high 22 points after scoring 21 against Wichita State in a semifinal on Saturday. Hancock had 16 in the first half to help rally the Cardinals from an early 12-point deficit.
Michigan's Trey Burke led all scorers with 24 points, despite missing much of the first half because of foul trouble.
Louisville's pressure defense gets a lot of credit, and rightfully so, but gritty rebounding and strong inside play by Chane Behanan has made a big difference in the second half of the national championship game.
Louisville has benefited from several second and third chances in the last 10 minutes, which is why the Cardinals lead, 78-74, with aboiut a minute left.
Behanan has 11 rebounds along with 15 points.
Guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith have also done a nice job on penetrating and making sharp passes.
Louisville has its biggest lead of the game, 71-64, with 5:09 left in regulation after an 8-3 sparked by guard Peyton Siva.
Siva has 16 points -- 12 in the second half.
He and Louisville also benefited from a terrible call.
Siva went up for a layup and Michigan's Trey Burke appeared to make a terrific clean block with his left hand.
But Burke was called for a foul, and Silva made both free throws.
Twice in the second half, Louisville has extended a lead to five points.
Both times, Michigan's Trey Burke answered.
Louisville lead, 63-58, when Burke scored on a driving lay-in and was fouled by Wayne Blackshear. He made the free throw to complete a three-point play and narrow Michigan's deficit to 62-60.
Burke has 16 points.
Mitch McGary, one of Michigan's star freshman and a breakout star in the NCAA tournament, has picked up his fourth foul with 9:11 left to play.
McGary, a strong scorer, rebounder and defender down low, went airborne while defending Luke Hancock on a three-pointer.
Hancock made two of the three free thows and Louisville leads, 63-58.
You can't blame Coach John Beilein for going with a hot hand, inserting Spike Albrecht into the game to play alongside another playmaker, Trey Burke, less than four minutes into the second half.
After all, Albrecht was the reason Michigan led at the half.
But the decision to have Albrecht bring the ball up against Louisville's pressure was a mistake. Louisville's defense forced Michigan out of a rhythm as Albrecht had to work hard just to get the ball into the front court.
That only lasted a few possessions, though. Burke is now back in control of the offense.
And Michigan, which fell behind by five points, is now within two, 54-52, with about 12 minutes left to play.
Even with playmaker Trey Burke missing so much playing time because of foul trouble, Michigan has only six turnovers with 15:57 left to play.
The Wolverines lead, 46-43.
Louisville, which prides itself on pressure defense, has seven turnovers.
Both teams are shooting the lights out. Michigan is shooting 53.1% (17-32) and 58.3% (7-12) from three-point range.
Louisville is shooting 48.3% (14-29), including 66.7% (6-9) from three point range.
Louisville struck first coming out of halftime, taking a 40-38 lead on a three-point basket by Wayne Blackshear.
But Michigan, with Trey Burke back in the lineup, has gone on an 8-2 run to build a 46-42 advantage with 16:54 to play.
Burke played sparingly in the first half because he got two quick fouls. But he has 10 points, including a three pointer on his first shot of the second half.
A couple of introductions may be in order.
Michigan leads Louisville, 38-37, at halftime of the national championship game and the leading scorers for both teams came off the bench.
Luke Hancock sparked Louisville, who trailed by 12 points with three minutes to play before the break yet ended up taking the lead before a couple of free throws by Glenn Robinson III put Michigan back up.
Hancock has 16 points -- on four three-pointers and four free throws. But at least you've probably heard of him. He had 20 points in the national semifinal against Wichita State.
The junior transfer from George Mason came in averaging 7.7 points in 22.2 minutes per game.
The leading scorer in the game, Spike Albrecht of Michigan, is an entirely different story.
The 5-11 freshman had scored 67 points all season before tonight. He had 17 in the first half, making six of seven shots, including all four of his three-pointers.
Albrecht didn't even score like that in high school. He averaged 9.3 points per game for Northfield Mount Herman College Prep.
Albrecht's given name isn't Spike. It's Michael Joseph. He took the nickname Spike because as a kid he wore baseball spikes everywhere to show his parents how much he wanted to play the game.
If I'm the Michigan baseball coach, I'm looking into that.
Michigan leads, 38-37, at halftime of the NCAA basketball championship game, but the momentum belongs to Louisville.
The Cardinals, who came back to beat Wichita State in a semifinal on Saturday after trailing by 12 points with 13 minutes to play, rallied from another 12-point deficit in the first half's final three minutes against Michigan.
Luke Hancock fueled the rally. Check that. He was the rally.
Hancock scored 14 consecutive points for Michigan -- a couple of free throws and then four three pointers.
Louisville actually took the lead, 37-36, when, after a turnover, Peyton Siva lofted a perfect lob pass to Montrezl Harrell, who slammed it home on a fast break.
Michigan regained the lead just before the break on a pair of free throws by Glenn Robinson III.
Hancock has 16 points.
That's one fewer than Michigan's Spike Albrecht, a 5-11 freshman who came in averaging 1.8 points in an average of 7-6 minutes.
Albrecht, playing in place of Trey Burke, the Wooden Award winner, made all four of his three-point shots, plus a free throw.
Burke, a sophomore who scored Michigan's first seven points, picked up two early fouls and sat out the rest of the half.
Spike Albrecht, meet Luke Hancock.
What Albrecht has been to Michigan, Hancock is becoming to Louisville.
(The difference: he's done it before -- like on Saturday against Wichita State.)
Hancock, a reserve, has hit three three pointers in the last three minutes and Louisville has cut what was a 12-point deficit to 36-32.
Spike Albrecht is flying around the Georgia Dome like a pinball.
A pinball scoring at will.
Michigan leads, 33-21, with 3:51 left in the first half and Albrecht, a freshman reserve, has 17 of the Wolverines points.
He has made six of seven shots, including all four from three-point range. This from a guy who came into the game with a scoring high of seven points -- against Ohio State on Jan. 13.
CBS, which is broadcasting the game, has researchers trying to find a comparison in the history of the NCAA tournament where such a no-name player has come on to completely take over a game.
So far they're coming up empty.
So is Louisville.
Michigan is off to a good start in the NCAA championship game, but trouble looms.
Playmaker Trey Burke picked up two fouls less than 10 minutes into the game.
Burke, a sophomore, won the Wooden Award as the nation's top player. Without him, the Wolverines seem susceptible to Louisville's pressure defense.
Michigan already has three turnovers.
The upside for Michigan: Burke's backup is Spike Albrecht, a 5-11 freshman who is playing out of his mind.
Albright already has 12 points -- a season high -- and the only shot he's missed was a free-throw. He is three for three from three-point range, hit a runner in the lane, and one of two free throws.
Michigan leads, 26-19, with 7:45 left in the first half, largely because the Wolverines are shooting 62.5% overall (10 of 16) and from three-point range (five of eight).
Spike Albrecht just can't miss from three-point range.
He's hit three in the first three minutes since coming off the bench.
Albrecht is eight for eight from three-point in the NCAA tournament after making nine three pointers all season -- the regular season and Big Ten Conference tournament.
Michigan leads, 20-15, with 11 minutes 41 seconds left in the first half and Albright, who averaged 1.8 points per game in an average of 7.6 minutes, is the game's leading scorer with nine points.
Trey Burke has seven.
Trey Burke has been held under double figures in scoring in two of Michigan's last five games, but he's off to a fast start in the NCAA title game.
Burke, a sophomore, has all seven of the Wolverines' points in the early going, including a looong three-pointers.
The score is tied, 7-7.
One question has already been answered as tonight's NCAA championshp game is underway:
Chris Webber is in attendance.
He was the only member of Michigan's infamous "Fab Five" who was questionable for the game -- even though he lives in Atlanta.
Webber helped the Wolverines to a pair of NCAA title game appearances in the 1990s, but his involvement with booster Ed Martin resulted in Michigan vacating wins -- including those from the NCAA tournament -- in 1993.
He also called the most famous timeout that wasn't in basketball history. In the 1993 title game, he called a timeout when Michigan didn't have one, resulting in a technical foul that helped North Carolina to a 77-71 victory.
Here are some last-minute notes from Times staff writer Chris Dufresne before Monday night’s tip-off between Louisville and Michigan.
Michigan is 18-0 this year against nonconference opponents. The Wolverines are only the third No. 4 seeded team to play for the title. The others were Syracuse (1996) and Arizona (1997). Syracuse lost the national title to Kentucky while Arizona defeated Kentucky for the national title.
Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. has made a three-pointer in nine straight games. Trey Burke, this year’s Wooden Award winner, is averaging 14.2 points and 6.7 assists per game in the NCAA tournament; however, he has been held under double figures twice in his last five games.
Louisville is 4-0 all-time against No. 4 seeds in the tournament. The Cardinals have scored 30% of their points (876 of 2,896) off turnovers.
Louisville is the first school to win a BCS bowl game and place both its women’s and men’s basketball teams in the Final Four in the same season.
If Louisville wins, it will be the eighth school with three or more NCAA titles. UCLA leads with 11, of course, followed by Kentucky (eight), Indiana (5), North Carolina (5), Connecticut (3), Duke (3), Kansas (3).
Two starters, Gorgui Dieng and Wayne Blackshear, were held scoreless against Wichita State.
That prompted Pitino to say of Dieng, his 6-11 junior center: “Gorgui is a three-year player so far. If he plays like he did last night, it will be four years.”
In Dieng’s defense, he did have six rebounds and was plagued by foul trouble.
“I say that in jest because he is going to go pro,” Pitino said of Dieng.
Hiserman is reporting from Los Angeles.
How they match up
Previewing the big game
Louisville vs. Michigan: Gratitude adjustment required