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Cardinal rule: Peyton Siva leads Louisville past Michigan for national title

Apr 8, 2013, 11:49 PM EDT

130408_peyton_siva.nbcsports-grid-8x2 Getty Images

ATLANTA — Louisville’s 82-76 win over Michigan in the 2013 National Title game turned into a classic, one of the best finals that we’ve seen in a long time.

But it started out as a sideshow, chock-full of the kind of performance that you should always expect to see in a national title game simply because it’s so unexpected.

Michigan’s Spike Albrecht, the 5-foot-11 back-up point guard who looks more like a manager than a baller and scored 24 points during the Big Ten season, lit up the Cardinals with 17 first half points. Michigan took a 33-21 lead despite having to play with National Player of the Year Trey Burke glued to the bench with two fouls. Luke Hancock, a transfer from George Mason that struggled with shoulder problems all season long, answered with four threes in the span of two minutes, erasing the Louisville deficit in the amount of time it takes microwave a bag of popcorn.

It was thrilling.

Unless you were Peyton Siva.

“At halftime, [Pitino] kept asking me, ‘Do you know the plays?’” Siva said after the game. “You keep looking over at me and asking me what plays to run.”

That wasn’t all he was saying, either.

MORE: Photos from Monday night

“You got to dig in, man,” Pitino screamed at his point guard. “You’re not in shape. I thought you were.” I’m sure it was no where near that PG.

But it worked. Pitino gave Siva the reins in the second half. He let him call the offense. He let him make the decisions and make the reads, and Siva took control, playing arguably his best half of the season. He scored 14 in the final 20 minutes, including a stretch where he netted three straight layups, to turn the tide when Michigan looked like they were getting ready to take control of the game once again.

All told, Siva finished with 18 points, six boards, five assists and three steals.

And in the end, it’s exactly the kind of performance that we should have expected out of Siva.

MORE: Now this was a game for the ages

Here’s the thing about Siva: throughout his entire career, all anyone has ever talked about is what Peyton Siva isn’t. He’s not a great shooter. He’s not big enough to be a superstar in the NBA. He makes dumb decisions and he gets into too much foul trouble and he turns the ball over too much.

But he’s a leader. He’s a winner. He’s everything that a coach could dream about at the point guard spot. “The two greatest people I coached in my life,” Pitino said last month, “were Billy Donovan and Peyton Siva.”

That’s what makes seeing Siva win a national title to end his collegiate career so special, because he’s the epitome of what makes college basketball so special. He’s the face of one of the most popular college basketball programs in the country, but he’s not above babysitting the grandchildren of his head coach. He’s the leader of a team that just one the national title, and after the buzzer sounds in the most important game of his life, he makes a point to seek out Trey Burke and congratulate him after the game. When asked what this win means for the rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville, siva sidesteps the question and says that this wasn’t about anything other than his team.

His brothers.

“We don’t look at it as who won it last year. We’re living in the present,” Siva said. “We got this win for our team.”

“This is really what a team is. This is really what college basketball is about, a group of guys who are like family. With Kevin Ware going down like that, everybody rallying around him, it showed how much we love each other, that we are a family.”

MORE: Rick Pitino had the best week ever

Is it any wonder that he’s the leader of this group?

If anything, that’s the best part about this title.

If anyone deserved to have their college career validated with a national title, it was Peyton Siva.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. mtheparrothead - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    The officiating was horrible. Both ways. NCAA should be (more) ashamed.

    • rbinnc - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      This was a good game, but an ugly game and far from beautiful. Pitino coaches this foul, foul, foul style, knowing full well that the refs “can’t call all the fouls”. He is doing what a coach should, using the rules and lack of enforcement of the rules to help his team win. It works, but it sure is ugly. And let’s not get started on traveling in college ball, they may as well change the rule from 1.5 steps to 3 steps.

  2. gatordontplay - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    congrats to Louisville.. as for imforbigblue the nightmare continues hahahahahahahahahahahaha

  3. boyshole25 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    I hope everyone made a pile on that game The refs sure did

  4. thegloriousone - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Eh. It should have been Louisville vs. Kansas anyway.

    Don’t worry, Michigan, I’m sure you’ll be back in 20 or 30 more years.

    And look at the bright side, your 6-6 football season is right around the corner.

    • johnelwayishorsefaced - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      Yup it’s all downhill for the Wolverqueens for a while now. Denard was their only decent football player and he’s off to be drafted in the 6th round of the NFL draft and cut in the preseason. Meanwhile Burke will leave for the NBA and leave their basketball team a shell of its former self. Here at Michigan State we’ve become pretty accustomed to dominating them in both football and basketball lately and this will only make things even easier for us.

  5. inhokewetrust - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Congrats to Louisville….20 years ago I was 17 years old and cried…tonight I just feel empty…we ran out of gas….I just hope not everybody from MICHIGAN goes pro..

  6. tbih - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Dear NCAA,

    Exactly how do you pick a National Championship crew with 2 refs from the Big East for that game? I hate conspiracy theory whackos…but that was a joke of a game. Missed travels, goal tendings, phantom fouls to not get Hancock in foul trouble…BS call to sit Burke for 12 minutes…that game was so dirty, I need a shower to wash the sleaze off me.

    • scoocha - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      It’s like you read my mind – Hancock remaining in the game was ridiculous, guy can’t defend a lick.

      Luke Hancock plays 2 great minutes, commits 7-8 fouls, and receives MOP? Sounds about right. Great shooter, so-so player.

  7. packhawk04 - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Great game and great season. Congrats to louisville.

    • polegojim - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      Ditto – great game and Louisville just had too much O in the long run.

      Beauty…. most of the Michigan players are coming back for several more years.

      Need another big in the middle.

      Go BLUE! Proud of you.

  8. tsrblue - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    thegloriousone=CLOWN

  9. jrs45 - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    Should’ve left Burke in.

  10. thegloriousone - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    Tsrblue,

    Thegloriousone = can’t wait to watch ESPN all day tomorrow and read the sports page and will sleep like a baby tonight.

    Good night, Michigan. Better luck in 2033.

  11. tsrblue - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    thegloriosone= unemployed loser

  12. tsrblue - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    thegloriousone=douchebag

  13. thegloriousone - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Tsrblue,

    Ha. Ha. Ha. Hahhaahhhahahhaaaa!

    But seriously, don’t feel too bad. Michigan was the 2nd best team on the floor tonight. If that helps. At least Albrecht kept them in it.

    Maybe Louisville will let Burke have a little piece of the net they cut down.

    • scoocha - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:29 AM

      thegloriousone doesn’t leave home address with post due to fear of 2 bullets exploding through his head tomorrow.

      • thegloriousone - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:11 AM

        Hey Scooch,

        When you’re done shooting people, flip on ESPN. You’ll never guess what they’re talking about this morning!

        “Hancock three!”
        “Hancock three!”
        “Hancock three!”
        “Hancock three!”

        Now THAT’S some shooting!

      • scoocha - Apr 18, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        Yeah, I have to eat that for sure. He was the guy that scared me the most, Beinlein is such a terrible coach leaving him wide open 4 times. But don’t forget that he fouled out in the first half, so deducting his 2nd half output would have changed the score in Michigan’s favor.

        Prepared for your Bucks to win the Big Ten and then lose the title after another Meyer cheating scandal?

  14. tsrblue - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    thegloriousone=

  15. bbk1000 - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    hahaha, bad calls got Michigan this this far, and a bad call helped them lose this game.

    The truth is, they didn’t deserve to be in this game, they should feel lucky, nothing more.

  16. mtheparrothead - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    Please explain how Michigan “lucked” into the nc.

  17. jrs45 - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    What a great outcome.

  18. jrs45 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Scooch must be from Detroit lol

  19. latrobe21 - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Last year, Kentucky. This year, Louisville. Congratulations! All that inbreeding that takes place in the state allowed for the national championship to stay in the family. And what the heck is wrong with Pitino? He looked like the grim reaper out of costume.

  20. imforbigblue - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    I’m glad UL won last night don’t know why you think I’d be mad hater gator. I’d rather the title stay in the state of Kentucky then UNC or PUKE or KU win it. Just shows the best basketball teams come from Kentucky

  21. jksee - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Neither a Louisville or Michigan fan. As stated by a earlier poster, very disappointed in the officiating. Lots of missed, critical calls. Also, is it Hancock’s habit to undercut players or was it just happenstance in this game? If it’s his habit, someone needs to teach him not to do it. He’s going to injure someone seriously and may cause a career ending injury.

  22. bengalsstillsuck - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Im a Buckeye fan an congratulations to Lou an Michigan this tourney was great but i was praying to the basketball gods of a OSU an Michigan national championship game but congrats to both

  23. sammydog99 - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    I guess they don’t employ editors any more.

    “He’s the leader of a team that just one the national title…”

    Mr. Dauster, sometimes spell check isn’t enough.

    I enjoyed watching Louisville run and gun. But the game did more resemble the NBA at times.

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