Michigan played tough and held its own with the Cardinals but by game’s end, the Wolverines could not keep up with Louisville’s offense.
The Cardinals won 82-78 on Monday behind strong efforts from Luke Hancock, Peyton Silva and Chane Behanan who combined for fifty-five points in the game.
Michigan was up 35-23 with just more than three minutes left in the first half before Louisville stormed back and brought the game to within one by the end of the half.
Down by just one point at the start of the second half, the Cardinals outscored Michigan 45-38 for the remainder of the game sealing coach Rick Pitino’s place in history as the only coach to ever win two championships with two different schools.
The game displayed plenty of potential NBA talent.
Trey Burke, the sophomore out of Michigan, used the tournament to give a solid boost to his already soaring draft stack. The shooting guard averaged more than 19 points, nearly seven assists and three rebounds per game this season, and in the championship game, scored 24 points, dished three assists and grabbed four boards.
Hoops Hype has Burke going No. 7 overall and potentially to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Gorgui Dieng, the junior center for Louisville, proved his worth throughout the year as his return coincided with the Cardinals’ run and postseason success. Dieng stabilizes their defense and could be drafted late in the first round by a team like the Pacers.
Those are just two players who may have an impact in the NBA. Glen Robinson III, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mitch McGary are all considered potential first round draft picks with Robinson possibly being a lottery pick.
The point being, despite common belief there are plenty of talented athletes waiting to make an impact on the NBA landscape.
Before October, how many people outside serious college basketball fans had heard of Damian Lillard?
Anthony Davis was the only rookie of the year candidate yet Lillard emerged and seems to be running away with the award.
The Orlando Magic could find themselves picking first overall this summer, and their choice may be difficult.
Go with Nerlens Noel, a consensus number one pick out of Kentucky who is rehabilitating an ACL injury, or draft the can’t-miss shooting guard Ben McLemore who played a putrid game in the tournament going 0-9 against North Carolina?
Either one could be the next great thing in the NBA, but would either stay in Orlando after becoming a superstar?
If the Cleveland Cavaliers got a chance to combine Marcus Smart, a freshman point guard for Oklahoma State with Kyrie Irving and a core that is slowly coming together, could they make the type of playoff run many expected the Washington Wizards to make this year?
While Sacramento is dealing with Tyreke Evans’ lack of development, Demarcus Cousins’ lack of maturity, and the team’s lack of assurance as to where it will be playing next season, how excited can a King’s fan be even with the prospects of adding a potential difference maker such as Cody Zeller from Indiana?
The national championship showed the nation some of the talent fans will be watching on the NBA hardwoods next season, and there are plenty of other talented student-athletes getting ready to make their case as the next star.
That GM may be right, and the 2013 draft class may prove to be weak. But only time will tell and until the draft, speculation will continue as to how the NBA landscape will change.
David Israel is a senior sports communication major from Stokie. He is the Scout sports reporter.
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