Then, when Burke sidelined most of the first half with two fouls, Albrecht took control. The kid whose nickname comes from his first pair of baseball spikes showed he’s a pretty good hoops player, too, knocking down one 3-pointer after another to send the Wolverines to a double-digit lead.
When Albrecht blew by Tim Henderson with a brilliant hesitation move, Michigan led 33-21 and Louisville was forced to call timeout. The freshman was mobbed on the Michigan bench, like the Wolverines had already won the national title, with one teammate waving a towel in tribute.
Not so fast. Not against Louisville.
The Cardinals just kept coming back.
After already pulling off a stunning comeback in the Big East championship game — down by 16 in the second half, they won by 17 — and another against Wichita State, they surged back behind their own ace off the bench.
Hancock matched Albrecht from the 3-point stripe. Then, trapping the youngster and knocking the ball away, he set up a fast break that ended with Siva flipping up a lob that Montrezl Harrell slammed through for a dunk, capping a stunning 16-3 run in less than 4 minutes that gave the Cardinals their first lead of the night, 37-36.
Glenn Robinson III made two free throws with two seconds left to give Michigan a 38-37 lead at halftime.
But everyone knew this game was just getting started.
And when it was done, Pitino, Ware and the Cardinals were celebrating in the middle of the mammoth Georgia Dome, assuring the national title will stay in the bluegrass another year.
Last season, it was Kentucky winning it all, the same team that gave Pitino his first title in 1996.
Now, he’s got another one — right down the road in Louisville.