This year's championship, while imperfect, will stand the test of time as one of the most compelling in years.
You had Kevin Ware, who suffered a devastating broken leg against Duke, who managed to rise above it. You had Luke Hancock, whose father is quite ill and likely dying. You had Rick Pitino, who not all that long ago was in an incredibly humiliating situation and forced to testify against a woman who sought to extort him.
And that's just on Louisville's side.
On Michigan's, you had a phenomenal offense brilliantly executed by a very young team. As good as the Fab Five was, this group, to us, was better and played the game at a higher level. They played hard, they respected their opponents, and ultimately just got beat by a better team.
We have a world of respect for Michigan. They're almost impossible to guard; you plug one hole and three more open up. We're pretty sure no outside of the team expected Spike Albrecht to go off for 17 in the first half.
Michigan's system allows for that though. It just amazes us to watch how often someone gets open for a three - and how ruthless they are when they get an open shot.
It'd take a near miracle to get Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Mitch McGary all back next year, but if they manage to somehow, this team could run the table. They're extraordinarily talented and incredibly well coached.
In a lot of ways, Ware and Hancock will be the faces of this tournament, but the driving force of Louisville's triumphant second half was Chane Benahan. The guy was just relentless on the boards. To an extent, his determination reminded us of Shane Battier's in 2001. Like Battier, Benahan was not going to be denied. And you have to acknowledge this, too: Louisville was in better condition than was Michigan. That's not a knock on the Wolverines, who were also in excellent shape, it's just that Pitino always has tremendously conditioned squads. Always.
Pitino now occupies a highly singular spot in the sports history: not only is he the only coach to win a national championship at two schools, he did it at Kentucky and Louisville, both deeply historic programs and huge rivals. Try to imagine it happening at Duke and UNC: it's nearly impossible.
But there it is. Louisville deserves the title and they wear it well. Congratulations. Next year should be a lot of fun in the Commonwealth.