Spike Albrecht didn’t see a lot of playing time for the Michigan Wolverines this season, but the 5-foot-11 freshman sure turned up when it mattered the most.
Facing the top-ranked Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA title game, Albrecht took over after Michigan star Trey Burke picked up a few quick fouls in the first half and had to go to the bench.
Given a small opening, Spike Albrecht exploded. He scored 17 points in the first half, staking Michigan out to a 38-37 halftime lead. Though Louisville would eventually seize control of a hard-fought contest near the end to win 82-76, Albrecht’s heroics made for an exciting story line.
It wasn’t just a few lucky shots that the little guard made for Michigan. Albrecht did knock down all four three-points he attempted but also drove to the hoop with ease and even started a fast-break with a pass he threw while seated on the court.
His Michigan teammates mobbed Albrecht when he scored a driving layup to give Michigan a 12-point lead in the first half.
Spike Albrecht came a long way to reach the national stage. The guard out of Northfield Mt. Hermon Prep originally got interest from only one Division I school, Appalachian State. Michigan came across him when it appeared that Burke would turn pro after his freshman year, offering Albrecht a scholarship as a sort of fall-back plan.
Albrecht spent most of the year giving Burke a few breaks here and there, though he came alive during March Madness. He scored seven points in Michigan’s Elite Eight matchup with Florida and then nailed a pair of big three-pointers in the Final Four against Syracuse.
In the end, the loss was heartbreaking to a Michigan team that many thought wouldn’t advance far in the tournament.
“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. “The team unity we had, the sacrifice we had from five seniors who did not get to play very much, to these young guys buying into the team concept.
“We feel bad about it. There are some things we could have done better and get a win, but at the same time, Louisville is a terrific basketball team. We have not seen that quickness anywhere.”
At least Michigan has a bright future with Spike Albrecht, who finished 9-for-9 from behind the arc for the NCAA tournament.