Move over, Trey Burke. There's a new star point guard in Ann Arbor.
Michigan backup Spike Albrecht, a freshman who averaged 7.6 minutes per game during the regular season, came off the bench and became the story of the National Championship Game.
National Player of the Year Trey Burke came out hot for the Wolverines, hitting his first three shots and scoring the team's first seven points. But he picked up his second foul with 15:43 left on the clock, relegating him to the bench, and setting Albrecht up to seize the spotlight.
The freshman promptly hit his first five shots, four of which were three-pointers, and added one made free throw to boot. When the half was finished, Albrecht had 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting, including 4-for-4 on three-pointers. And not all of them were open looks (via Buzzfeed):
BuzzFeed Sports @BuzzFeedSports
GIF: "Magic" Spike Albrecht's range extends to the moon http://t.co/OTWclemNoC4/9/2013, 2:02:48 AM
His hot shooting helped give Michigan a big lead, even with it's leader, Burke, sitting on the bench. Despite his own hot start, the All-American point guard played just five minutes in the first half.
Albrecht played 15.
Albrecht's performance, while one of the most unlikely in championship game history, actually shouldn't come as that much of surprise. At least not if you've been watching Michigan play all tournament. He was 5-for-5 beyond the arc coming in, and as of this moment, still hasn't missed on any of his nine three-point attempts.
But the second half came and went, but Albrecht was unable to recapture lightning in a bottle. His stat-line after the break read: 0-for-2 from the field (0-for-1 from beyond the arc), one turnover and one personal foul.
Without another contribution from Albrecht, Michigan was unable to keep up with Peyton Siva and the high-scoring Cardinals, losing a close one 82-76. But that still doesn't stop this from being among the least expected performances ever—especially on a big stage. Here's a few reactions from around the internet:
ESPN Stats & Info. provides some perspective on Albrecht's hot-shooting tournament:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Spike Albrecht has as many 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament (9) as he had all season entering the tournament4/9/2013, 2:00:30 AM
Dan Wolken of USA Today went to Albrecht's Scout.com profile. How many schools do you think are kicking themselves right now?
Dan Wolken @DanWolken
Spike Albrecht had zero stars in the http://t.co/oJcSs87OLj database.4/9/2013, 2:00:18 AM
Yahoo! columnist Dan Wetzel on Burke's temporary benching—even if the foul trouble was in play:
Andy Katz of ESPN.com further elaborated on how unique Albrecht's shooting was:
Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
Spike Albrecht is PUMPED up. And why not? This is unprecedented. No one had him dominating the game. No one.4/9/2013, 2:04:12 AM