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Still, it was quite a run for a fourth-seeded team that knocked off No. 1-seeded Kansas with the greatest comeback of the tournament, rallying from 14 points down in the second half to beat the Jayhawks in the round of 16.

But they came up against the ultimate comeback team in the final, a group that was intent on keeping the title in the bluegrass state after Kentucky won it all last season.

Louisville had already pulled off a stunning rally in the Big East championship game — down by 16 in the second half, they won by 17 — and another against Wichita State.

“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. “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.”

No wonder Ware was grinning from ear to ear.