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Louisville Triumphs Over Michigan 82-76

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On a Tuesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Steve Inskeep is on a reporting trip this week in Venezuela. I'm David Greene in Washington.

The University of Louisville are the new champions of men's college basketball. They beat the University of Michigan Wolverines 82-to-76 last night in Atlanta. For the Cardinals, this victory was the finale to a post season that involved overcoming so many deficits.

Here's NPR's Mike Pesca.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Before the tournament started, Louisville wasn't only a number one seed, they were the team the NCAA deemed the number one seed, meaning they were the favorites to win it all. But the three weeks and one day from Selection Sunday to Championship Monday were more crucible than coronation.

After the game Louisville Coach Rick Pitino reflected on the leg injury to guard Kevin Ware, the contributions of Ware's replacement and Louisville's entertaining journey.

RICK PITINO: You had no idea who was going to win going in this tournament; where a Kevin Ware can rally the troops to beat Duke, and when Tim Henderson - a walk-on - can carry you through to a championship game, it just happened to happen o us, but it's really special.

PESCA: He left out a 12-point deficit in the semi finals and a 12-point deficit last night, thanks largely to a heretofore anonymous Michigan player, with a name that stands out. the book "Fur Facts, " written in 1922 by Albert Ahern, describes the Wolverines' pelt as having long, coarse fur. But last night, the wolverines had spike.

JIM NANTZ: Albrecht with another three. This kid has 15 of the 31.

CLARK KELLOGG: And hasn't missed. That's the other thing, has not missed.

PESCA: Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg on CBS and everyone in the building marveled at Spike Albrecht, who was averaging under two points per game but came off the bench in the championship and just went bonkers. Seventeen first half points, four three-pointers attempted, four three-pointers made, he helped put the Wolverines up by 12. But then Spike from Michigan was answered by Louisville Luke. Luke Hancock, who in the span of two and a half minutes, hit two free throws, four three-pointers and hit 11 on the comeback-o-meter.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

PESCA: They're not booing they're saying Luke. Actually that guy was booing, a Michigan fan who, by the second half, sensed the game slipping away, especially after Trey Burke was whistled for a foul on Peyton Siva.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

PESCA: The Michigan partisans didn't like the call...

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

PESCA: ...and hated the replay that suggested Burke may have gotten Siva with the body - barely. Siva converted his free throws, putting the Cardinals up five with five to play and the Louisville never looked back. With 12 seconds left and his team leading by four, Siva was fouled and sprinted toward the free throw line. After the game he said it was to show that he was unfazed.

PEYTON SIVA: Oh, I wasn't tired. I was letting everybody know that I wasn't tired, and I'm going to make these free throws. That shows my confidence. I'm not scared to make the big shots.

PESCA: Pitino had been riding Siva all game, telling him he was out of shape, challenging him to hang tough. So Siva's trot was also a message to the coach he says he loves: I got this one. Indeed, all of Louisville did. Luke Hancock was the first non starter to ever be named an MVP of the Final Four, the injured Kevin Ware got to snip some net. And Rick Pitino, named to the basketball Hall of Fame not 24 hours ago, became the first coach to take two different teams to a title.

The only item on the agenda is for the Louisville men to root on the Louisville women as they play for a championship of their own tonight.

Mike Pesca, NPR News, Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent for NPR based in New York City.

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