U of L title hopes: "It's been way too long"

ATLANTA – Twenty-seven years. That's how long it's been since the University of Louisville men's basketball program won a national championship. The Cardinals can end the drought tonight as they take on Michigan in the Georgia Dome for the NACA Tournament national title.

It's been a long time since the University of Louisville has a party of epic proportions to celebrate a basketball national title.

It has happened twice before.

The Cardinals celebrated a 1980 championship with a massive party in Freedom Hall and then had the streets of Louisville celebrating again in 1986.

"We're due again," former U of L coach and Hall of Famer Denny Crum said. "It's been a long time and there's been some really good teams at Louisville."

The Cardinals will have a chance to win the school's third national title tonight at 9:20 p.m. when they take on Michigan in the title game.

U of L has been to the Final Four in 2005 and '12 but this marks the first time back in the title game since a win over Duke in '86.

"It's hard to believe it's been 27 years since the last championship," said Jeff Hall, a guard on the '86 team. "It's been way too long."

Roger Burkman, the sixth-man on the '80 championship team, agreed with the program being long overdue for a title. He and several other players on past championship teams said the '80 and '86 players are "waiting for someone else to join the fraternity" of champions at U of L.

"It would mean so much to our community and to our city," Burkman said. "There's been so many good players over the years, I like to think it's time."

U of L is one of the most successful programs in the country and according to Forbes Magazine is the most valuable program in the country.

Now, as Crum put it a title could make things even better.

"I am as excited as anybody," Crum said. "It's been a long time and we've had a lot of great teams. It would be great to see for the university and the city.

"Louisville is due."

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