Oh boy here it is. The big one. The national championship game. Your Louisville Cardinals vs the Michigan Wolverines. Clash of two college basketball powerhouses. There’s no Cinderellas here. Just two contenders battling it out to see who can add another national championship to their storied program. At the end of the night, only one team will stand supreme. How will Louisville fare? Let’s find out.
First off, we all have heard OVER AND OVER again about how Michigan destroyed VCU despite the Havoc defense, something closely similar to Louisville’s. We’ve all heard about how great Michigan is and how they never turn the ball over blah blah blah. You know what we didn’t hear about? How Trey Burke, the national POY had 7 turnovers against the Havoc defense. VCU has good guards, but I know that Louisville’s are better and I’m interested to see how he fares against the constant threat of being turned over by Russ and Siva. Because since Burke is in the backcourt, you can bet that if he gets turned over, there’s no stopping Smith or Siva from scoring because there’s just nobody there. Despite all of this, I still think that both team’s guards will play exceptionally well tonight. Louisville is playing the best guard they’ve faced all season, and we’re in for a good backcourt battle.
Louisville is also going to need to see some major offensive and defensive production down low. Michigan freshman forward Mitch McGary has just absolutely blossomed throughout this tournament. He’s turned into this player who has shown that he has the ability to rebound, steal, and score. He’s going to be a tough player for Louisville to contain, but they can do it. In fact, they don’t even have to STOP him necessarily. They’ll just need to keep up and stay at his pace. He scores, Dieng or SVT need to hammer it down. They are both more experienced than him. SVT is bigger and Dieng is more talented. Both of them will need to get more touches and play more lockdown post defense (unlike last game) if they are to beat the Wolverines.
History is also on the side of the Cardinals. Louisville is 2-7 in final four games. Those two wins were in 1986 and 1980. I’m sure that if you’re a Cards fan, you’ve heard of those years. That stat means exactly what it says. Louisville is 2-0 in championship games. Another stat backing up the Cards is that only one team has ever won the national championship as a four seed-the 1997 Arizona Wildcats (who, on an unrelated note, beat the Pitino-coached Kentucky Wildcats). The Pitino-led Wildcats beat a four-seeded Syracuse squad in 1996.
Tonight is just going to be an absolutely great game no matter who you root for. We have the best offensive team in the country vs the best defensive team in the country. We all have different opinions on the outcomes and you can comment below with yours if you like. I certainly have my own prediction, but I will not release it due to fear of jinxing the Cards.
In all, this is the most important moment in my life as a Louisville sports fan. While I’m still in high school, I’ve been waiting for this moment. I can’t even begin to imagine how those Cards fans that have been waiting 27 years for this must feel. It’s been far too long a wait. I’ve not nearly been through as much as older fans, but I’ve been through Cardinal heartbreaks and Cardinal triumphs. From 2 final fours in my recent memory to countless other terrible losses, I’ve seen the best and the worst in this past decade. I am finally growing up and becoming a greater Louisville fan each passing day. I want to see this happen. Card Nation wants this to happen. The Derby City wants this to happen. I can’t think of any better way than to alleviate the pains of Cardnation and send off Peyton Siva in his final game as a Louisville Cardinal. They owe it to us. We owe it to them. Go Cards.