marchmadness

Louisville Wins National Title Behind Heroic Efforts Of Bench Player With Tremendous Beard

Luke Hancock, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, came up huge at the most important time.

Despite leading by as many as 12 points in the first half, Michigan couldn’t hold on in tonight’s NCAA title game, which ended with Louisville winning 82-76.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton / AP

A major reason for that comeback was guard Peyton Siva, who had 18 tough points.

Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader / MCT

Incredibly energetic hustle plays like this late in the game were essential to Louisville’s comeback.

Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock, a forward off the bench, scored 22 points on only six shots from the field. The bearded sparkplug just could not miss.

Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader / MCT

Hancock only averaged 7.7 points per game during the regular season. But in the Final Four against Wichita State, he went for 20, 14 of them in the second half. Against Michigan, he started gunning right off the bat.

Despite playing with four fouls, Hancock hit his biggest shot here, with 3:30 left in the game, to put the Cardinals up by 10. He’d later hit two free throws that effectively iced the championship for Louisville.

The win made Rick Pitino the first coach to ever win two championships at two different schools. It’s Louisville’s third title following NCAA wins in 1980 and 1986.

Unfortunately, Pitino’s night — and his team’s smart, tough performance — were ruined by what appears to have been an utterly terrifying confetti-cannon noise.

You’ll get ‘em next year, coach. Luke Hancock and his beard, after all, have one more year of eligibility remaining.

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