The Louisville Cardinals are the national champions.

Coach Rick Pitino led his resilient squad past the Michigan Wolverines in an electrifying game that remained tight after Louisville gained its first lead near the close of the first half.

"We beat a great basketball team, probably because I had the toughest 13 guys I've ever coached," a beaming Pitino said during a post-game interview broadcast live by CBS from the floor of the Georgia Dome.

The game looked like it was going to go Michigan's way for most of the first half, but the Cardinals surged back to life as the break neared, and they never looked back, beating UM, 82-76.

It was an emotional win for Louisville, as it came just eight days after star guard Kevin Ware broke his leg in terrifying fashion during the team's Elite 8 showdown against the Duke Blue Devils.

Ware had to sit out the game, but he was rewarded for his bravery by being given the opportunity to cut down the net at the game's finish despite the fact that he was unable to climb a ladder; instead the basket was lowered so he could snip it from the ground.

"It's not about me. I've never been that type of guy ... [My teammates] got the job done and I'm so proud of them," Ware said after the game.

Louisville's sharpshooter Luke Hancock scored 22 points and went five-for-five from behind the line, taking the team to its first NCAA Championship since 1986. Pitino became the first head coach in NCAA basketball Division 1 history to win a championship at two schools (he won one at Kentucky in 1996.)

Peyton Siva added 18 points for the Cardinals, while Trey Burke led Michigan with 24 points on the night, while freshman Spike Albrecht had a breakout performance with 17 points.

This is Louisville's year, as Ware's injury led the team to be the favorite of many in the final game, which cames on the heels of the women's team winning the national championship and the football team winning the Sugar Bowl.