by DeMarco Williams / @demarcowill
There’s something rather poetic about tonight’s national title contest. The two schools’ home cities —Louisville, Kentucky and Ann Arbor, Michigan— are about 350 miles apart on I-75. Know where the halfway mark is between the two spots? Dayton, Ohio, where this whole journey began back on March 19. It’ll all culminate tonight, of course, with confetti on the ground and jubilant hands in the air. But somebody’s gotta make that long trip home trophy-less. That’s just the way it is. I can’t say for certain right now if it’ll be the Cardinals’ Russ Smith or the Wolverines’ Trey Burke, but what I do know is that if you make your way back here at tip-off, we’ll go on the ride together to find out…
…And we’re baaaack. About 30 seconds before the Louisville Cardinals came onto the court, Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” started blaring from the rafters. Gonna go out on a limb and say that Coach Rick Pitino did not request that.
-Right after Michigan hits the court Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” comes on. Startin’ to feel a little like 2002 in the Dome…but ironically, that’s the same year Maryland won the national championship in Atlanta.
-If we’re predicting the score based on crowd noise, the final will be Louisville 75, Michigan 63.
-Scanning the seats, it’s looking pretty split between the fans wearing maize and blue and those in red and white. Might give the slight edge to Michigan.
-Trey Burke already has more points (5) in a minute and a half than he had all first half vs. Syracuse.
-Understanding the finality of things, Mr. Burke is looking to score early and often. Love the aggressiveness. But hey, if this were your last time wearing a collegiate uniform, you’d try to bring it, too.
-The jumbotron just panned to the Fab 4… as in Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose.
-Though Peyton Siva looked more like Blake Shelton than Blake Griffin on that slam attempt, I saw his vision. The Cards are gonna need a 10-and-5 night from him.
-Of course, the down side to Burke’s more aggressive approach overall is foul trouble. Two by the 10-minute mark stings.
-Michigan hasn’t missed a beat with Spike Albrecht in the game for Burke. In fact, the lil’ homie’s 15 points have the Dome buzzin’.
-Who is this Luke Hancock? The kid went nuts in the second half on Saturday and he’s going ham again tonight. His 16 points have done all but silence Spike’s 17.
-38-37 at the break. Albrecht vs. Hancock, Part 2 in about 16 minutes.
-The marching band from Morehouse College, an all-male historically black school based in Atlanta, is serving as the chief halftime entertainment. What’s weird is that they have female dancers and what looks like a couple of ladies playing instruments. I’d love to hear from a Morehouse alum who can tell me how females got with the unit.
-I’m pretty sure the folks at CBS are doing a good job sharing Albrecht facts, but I bet they missed this bit about the young man’s high school, Northfield Mt. Hermon in Massachusetts: the guy who invented volleyball (William G. Morgan), the guy who founded Burger King (James W. McLamore) and the lady who killed in Bill (Uma Thurman) all went to the school as well.
-The second half starts with Burke back in the game and the Cards back up to their long-range tricks. 40-38, Louisville.
-A trey from Trey. The point guard position has been tremendous tonight for the Wolverines. 27 points from Burke and Albrecht.
-At the 46-43 timeout, the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 class was introduced. Though names like Gary Payton and Rick Pitino will headline the roster, I’m glad incredible ballers like Bernard King and Dawn Staley were formally recognized. Payton might be “The Glove,” but Staley’s hands were some of the quickest I’ve ever seen on the basketball court. Period.
-Burke’s trying to make things happen. Siva’s trying to make things happen. That’s the mentality your leaders have to have in biggies.
-Two points on one end. Two on the other. Neither squad is blinking. This one feels like it’s about to get special. 54-52, Louisville.
-At the break, the Division II champion Drury Panthers come onto the floor. My wife and I saw them take the crown yesterday afternoon in a hard-fought match-up with Metro State. The most memorable cat on the court was Drury’s Ian Carter. Not sure if it was because of his high-right, low-left haircut or his all-out hustle.
-Jordan Morgan’s ugly crash to the floor sends an understandable hush over the crowd for a few seconds.
-At the start of the game, I said Louisville needed 10 and 5 from Siva to have a chance. They already have 12 and 4.
-Tonight’s attendance: 74, 326, a new all-time high for a National Championship game.
-Albrecht still sitting on the 17 he had in the first half. Don’t think he’s scored a point tonight while Burke was on the same court.
-An alley-oop on one end. An alley-oop from another. You gotta love the fight in these two teams.
-Peyton Siva, love the energy, my man, but that was not a foul. All leather.
-The in-arena cameras just panned from actors Steve Carell and Paul Rudd to ESPN’s Jalen Rose. Wonder if Jalen can get a guest spot in Anchorman 2.
-Who’s keeping a tab on how many times Trey’s hit the hardwood with a thud tonight?
-Fantastic game. Siva has been a stud. Burke has been awesome. The co-stars have been stellar.
-Ball game. 82-76, Cards.
-What a year for Louisville. Sensational start to the season. A three-game losing streak in January. A phenomenal run through the Big East tournament. A No. 1 overall seed in the Dance. The Kevin Ware tragedy. And to watch it all conclude on the Georgia Dome floor with the title is pretty spectacular. Congrats!