Atlanta • Spike Albrecht shined while Trey Burke sat.
After all that, Michigan and Louisville were still pretty much even. Then the Wolverines couldn't stop the Cardinals in the second half.
With Burke on the bench in early foul trouble, the seldom-used Albrecht scored 17 points in the first half, and the Wolverines led by 12 in Monday night's national title game. But that lead was only one at halftime, and the Cardinals went on to win 82-76.
Albrecht and Burke both played plenty in the second half, but Michigan couldn't prevent Louisville from converting around the basket. Albrecht went scoreless after halftime, leaving Burke the national player of the year to try to rally Michigan. He did his best, finishing with 24 points in what might have been his final college game, but it wasn't enough.
"Louisville was the better team today, and they're deserving of the win," Burke said. "We fought all the way, for 40 minutes there was never a point in time we gave up. Louisville was just a really solid team at the end of the game. ... They took care of the ball, they hit foul shots, and they were the better team."
In the end, Michigan simply couldn't prevent Louisville from scoring. The Wolverines shot 52 percent from the field and 8 of 18 from 3-point range, but when they fell behind late, they weren't able to string together enough stops for a rally.
Michigan had been vulnerable for much of the season at the defensive end, and Louisville had enough talent and muscle to take advantage. The Cardinals finished with 15 offensive rebounds and each one seemed more devastating than the previous to the Wolverines.
Michigan (31-8) trailed by four with about a minute to play, and Caris LeVert appeared to come down with a big defensive rebound for the Wolverines.
But he was ruled out of bounds. After that, Louisville had control.
"I've had a lot of really good teams over the years, and some emotional locker rooms, and that was the most emotional we've ever had," Michigan coach John Beilein said.