Louisville 72, Wichita State 68

USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in my (conscious) life, the Louisville Cardinals are going to play for the national championship. It's so hard to come up with a follow-up sentence to that because I legitimately don't have anything to compare this to. It's a day that I feel like I've been waiting for since I was about 5-years-old, and now that it's happening, I just...well, I don't know.

It's a bizarre feeling, but a fantastic one to be sure.

I'm gonna gave to drink about 15 Tim & Tonics today in order to keep the nerves at bay. And if you don't think I won't actually continue to order a Tim & Tonic until the bartender brings me something, well, you're probably right if I'm stone-cold sober. But if I've had a few drinks already, I'm gonna do it. Bet.

Let's do this quick and dirty so we can turn our attention back to the women's game and doing whatever else we need to mentally prepare for the 36 hours or so that lie ahead.

If I said it once after it happened, I said it a hundred times: If we win this game it's legitimately because of Tim Henderson.

I went to get food at halftime and legitimately uttered the sentences: "That was our worst half in two moths and we're down by one. They didn't even play that well. We'll win by at least 10."

Bear in mind that I am not exactly the most optimistic in-game fan you know.

Fast forward to the 13:40 mark of the second half when Cleanthony Early drills yet another three-pointer to put Wichita State up 12.

"Holy sh-t. We're actually going to lose."

And we would have, had a walk-on from Christian Academy who was only forced onto the court by an injury to another reserve not buried back-to-back three-pointers to instantly get the Cardinals back into the game and completely shift the momentum back to the side of the top seed.

The most amazing thing about the shots was that there was no hesitation whatsoever from Hendo, who had misfired on his only other attempt up to that point. He went up for both those shots like the play had been drawn up for him. You could almost hear him say as he rose for both shots, "why wouldn't I be taking this?"

Thank God he did, because if he'd been even remotely tentative then I'm quite confident a hoard of Louisville fans (including this one) would be in the midst of an extremely depressing road trip back home.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, this Louisville team is already in the record books for being the first one in U of L history to win 34 games. Congrats to the players and the staff.

I'd also enjoy a 35th victory, but that could just be me.

It's not? It's all of us? Ok, good, I was feeling a little bit self-conscious. I haven't been working out very much recently.

Luke Hancock would like a quick, CC-inspired, word with his haters.

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The next time you're thinking about bashing this man, even if you're watching the game completely alone, don't do it. Just don't do it.

Kid has balls the size of grapefruits, and eventually those things are going to make you silly.

Obviously everyone is going to remember those two three-pointers, but the made free-throws and those little Luke scoop lay-ups when we were making our big run were every bit as valuable.

Man's a straight boss.

You have to give a tip of the cap to Wichita State in this point in the wrap. Having the right game plan is one thing, but almost flawlessly executing said gameplan is another.

Even more impressive than that, I thought, was the way they responded to every Louisville run. Each time you thought the Cards were about to pull away and put themselves in a position to coast through the game's final minutes, the Shockers made a play to put the fear of God back in you.

When Louisville trimmed the 12-point lead to three, Tekele Cotton drilled a huge trey from the corner to double the lead back up. After the Cards finally took the lead, Early converted a three-point play that put to bed any dreams of a nice and easy final five minutes.

It was a incredibly gritty, and terrifying performance, by a Wichita State team that nearly became the first nine seed to win a game at the Final Four.

A solid moment captured at nearly the exact same time from opposite ends of the court by the C-J.

I got to meet a lot of cool folks at the alumni pep rally before the game, although I don't think I'm ever going to be fully comfortable with being asked, "how many kid pictured do you get a day?" It makes me very aware of and concerned about the bystanders and passer-bys within hearing distance.

Hajj Turner was there. We talked. It's not a big deal, really.

I was more than a little disappointed with the lack of intensity exhibited by the Louisville fans with the best seats. Even thought they were far out-numbered, the Wichita State contingent across the court was far more vocal and far more into the game than our guys appeared to be for the bulk of the two hours.

The major exceptions here are the Pitino clan sitting two or three rows behind the bench. They have been bringing the hear for the past four weeks and it's been fantastic to see.

The rest of you, step your games up. This is the two hours to end all two hours. Don't hold anything back.

This may have been Russ' worst game of the tournament so far, but he still kept us within shouting distance when no one could hit a shot by knocking down a couple of jumpers and drawing fouls. His 2-for-8 start from the charity stripe was...something else.

I'm quite confident that we'll see a more complete effort on Monday.

Obviously, that was not the Gorgui Dieng we've come to know and love over the past three years. Not sure if he was under the weather or if it was "just one of those nights," but either way it's nice to see that he's in good spirits today.

I don't think we can beat these guys tomorrow without Gorgui being Gorgui.

I'd been warned beforehand that Atlanta wasn't the best city for the Final Four, and after two nights I'm going to have to say that I agree.

It was so nice in New Orleans to be able to walk out of the arena and head straight to Bourbon Street and know that was where everyone was going to be. There's nothing like that in Atlanta, and it's also far more difficult to get around. The MARTA system is great, but not when ten thousand people are trying to use it at the same time. The result is no one being able to get three miles away from the Georgia Dome for an hour and there not being an adequate amount of time left to celebrate a big win.

Kind of a put a (very small) damper on the evening.

Peyton was just 1-of-9 from the floor, but he was the steady hand this team had to have if it wanted to make the comeback it needed in the second half. He and Russ also never let up on defense despite their offensive struggles. That's the level of maturity that you don't see from a lot of teams in college basketball, and part of the reason why Louisville has stood alone for the past four weeks.

Wichita State had just four turnovers with six minutes left to play. They finished with 11.

Big game from Chane, who really answered the bell at a time when his team desperately needed him to.

Eight down, one to go.

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