Many predicted Michigan-Louisville would be a game of runs, and it was. The Wolverines sprinted to a big first-half lead, gave it back within the span of two minutes just before the half and played catch-up in the last 10 minutes of the game, never quite getting there in an 82-76 loss.
Michigan sophomore Trey Burke picked up his second foul with 14 minutes to go in the first half on a questionable (at best) call, sending him to the bench for the rest of the half. Not only did the Wolverines not lose a beat, they expanded their lead to as many as 12, thanks to 17 points from freshman Spike Albrecht. U-M gave the lead away, however, when Louisville reserve Luke Hancock nailed four triples in the waning minutes of the half, and only got it back late in the half on two free throws from freshman Glenn Robinson III.
Burke had started hot, scoring the Wolverines' first seven points, but didn't get much help in that department from junior Tim Hardaway Jr., who finished 1-of-5 from the floor.
Enter Albrecht, the man of the hour. He hit four triples, drove to the hole and finished, scored 17 points in 16 minutes on 6-of-7 shooting and ran the offense and handled the ball well when Burke was on the bench. He and his fellow freshmen scored 26 straight points in one stretch to lead the charge, with big man Mitch McGary notching four points and three rebounds, Robinson III five points and Nik Stauskas three on a triple from the corner.
U-M seemed headed for a double-digit halftime lead, up 35-23 with 3:24 remaining, until Hancock heated up. He hit four triples in a 13-3 (and 11-0) Louisville run, the 40th time this year the Cardinals notched a run of 8-0 or more, and got his team right back in the game.
Michigan outrebounded the Cardinals 17-12 and turned it over only five times, but only led by a point at the half after Hancock's barrage.
Louisville's Wayne Blackshear opened the scoring with a triple from the corner to give the Cardinals their second lead. Robinson III answered with jump shot to tie it, and the track meet was on. Advantage, Michigan when Hancock left with his third foul at 18:32.
Burke hit a triple at 17:45 to put Michigan back up 44-42, but the Cardinals mounted another run. Louisville took its biggest lead, 52-47, on a triple from Russ Smith from the corner. A Burke 23-footer brought the Wolverines back within two, 54-52 at the 12-minute mark, but Louisville would play with the lead for the next four minutes. U-M fell behind by five again, 63-58, before an acrobatic finish and-one for Burke.
Michigan was one foul away from the bouns at 11:42. They were there at 11:09, with Louisville in foul trouble with four players with three fouls each, but they could never get over the hump. Alley-oops on both ends added to the drama, but ended with a three-point lead for the Cardinals.
One of the turning points came at 5:09, when Burke's clean block was called a foul in transition. That made it 69-64 Louisville, and the Cardinals had all the momentum. They pushed the lead to 71-64 at 4:44.
Robinson slowed the bleeding with a free throw at 4:34, but the lead expanded to eight at the last TV timeout before Hardaway made one of two free throws. It semed all but over when Hancock tripled from the corner to push thelead to 10, 76-66, with 3:20 remaining.
U-M didn't quit. Burke drove and scored, and he followed up with two free throws at 2:31 to cut it to six. Two free throws from Robinson III following a turnover made it 78-74, and the Wolverines forced a timeout at 1:11 with good pressure defense.
Michigan had a chance to get a rebound and cut it to two, but freshman Caris LeVert stepped on the out of bounds line after bringing in a rebound. Hancock hit two free throws to push the lead back to six, and the Cardinals closed it out from the line.
Burke finished with 24 points in 26 minutes to lead U-M. Albrecht finished with 17, Hardaway and Robinson III 12 each for the Wolverines.