Last night, the Louisville Cardinals defeated the Michigan Wolverines to capture the 2013 National Championship.
While watching the tournament, you probably noticed a number of engaging advertisements for Dove Men + Care, an initiative to “end the face torture” that occurs when men’s faces take abuse because of improper care. Dove wants all of us gents to have fresh faces, and they give us the tools to do so.
With that in mind, let’s talk about ‘fresh faces,’ but of a different variety.
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Neither school in last night’s title game can really be considered a ‘fresh face’ in the tournament’s final weekend, as Louisville has now won three titles while the Wolverines have a title of their own (plus the complicated Final Four legacy of the Fab 5).
However, there were a number of players in this year’s Final Four who can be considered fresh faces.
Some of these guys will be back next year to add to their collegiate accomplishments and legacies, while others will likely be plying their trade in the NBA. Regardless, they provided memorable moments during this now-completed March Madness.
Luke Hancock, Louisville
We have to start here, with the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Hancock proved that you don’t have to be in the starting lineup to have the biggest impact of all.
After leading the Cardinals to a come-from-behind victory of Wichita State, Hancock did it again versus Michigan. With the Wolverines up by double digits in the first half, Hancock (a transfer from George Mason) took it upon himself to lead Louisville back. He started raining threes from all over the court, going 5-5 in the game and finishing with 22 points.
His name might not have been of the household variety before the tournament, but it certainly is now. And he’ll back next year as a senior to help Louisville defend their crown.
Mitch McGary, Michigan
McGary didn’t have a great championship game, but it became the cliche of the tournament to say that McGary was this March’s breakout star. After an up and down freshman season, McGary stormed in the national college hoops consciousness by dominating down low for the Wolverines during their march to the final game.
The only question now is will the big, talented McGary parlay his tourney success into a first round NBA draft slot? Or will be be around to terrorize opposing postmen next year?
Congrats to the Shockers, who it could be argued gave Louisville an even tougher matchup than Michigan. Even into the second half Wichita State controlled the game before eventually succumbing to Louisville’s swarming D and timely O.
And while Wichita State shouldn’t necessarily be considered a ‘fresh face,’ because they have been an excellent program for a while now, it is still always a pleasant surprise when a #9 seed, especially one that isn’t from a power conference, crashes the final ball.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Last year, Michael Carter-Williams was stuck on the bench behind a senior leader (Scoop Jardine), a dynamic future lottery pick (Dion Waiters), and a guy who has been starting at Syracuse since, it seems like, Carmelo Anthony’s freshman year (Brandon Triche). But given the chance to play this year, Carter-Williams proved just how good he can be.
MCW did not have a particularly strong game against Michigan in the Final Four, but his sterling performances against Indiana and Marquette were a major reason why the ‘Cuse made it to the tournament’s final weekend.
Kevin Ware, Louisville
Few people outside of The Commonwealth knew the name Kevin Ware before the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, because of his horrific injury, even casual sports fans now know his name.
And in one of the great moments of this year’s tourney, Ware was able to make the final cut on the net last night for the team he helped inspire to the championship.
What other fresh faces did you take notice of during this year’s tournament?