A picture is worth a thousand words…or in this case, at least around 500.
Offensive tackle Breno Giacomini left Atlanta’s Georgia Dome last night in much higher spirits than when he and the Seahawks left that same stadium back in January, after the club fell 30-28 to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional playoff round.
That’s because Giacomini had just witnessed his stop-at-nothing Louisville Cardinals win the 2012-13 NCAA men’s basketball National Championship, outlasting a tough, young University of Michigan squad, 82-76, to finish the year with 34 wins – including 16 in a row to end the season – to just five losses.
“The scene was unreal,” Giacomini said today of Monday’s setting in Atlanta. “I went last year, so I felt the good and the bad. This year something just felt right.”
Last year, the fourth-seeded Cardinals won the bracket’s West Region to advance to the Final Four, but fell to the eventual champion Kentucky Wildcats in the tournament’s semifinal. This year, led by senior point guard Peyton Siva, a graduate of Seattle’s Franklin High School (who quarterback Russell Wilson sends some love to below), Louisville marched into the madness with the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
“Both schools had thousands of fans there,” Giacomini said. “We set a record for attendance. It was an unbelievable experience.”
The dome packed 74,326 fans, to be exact. A number that topped the previous NCAA tournament attendance record of 72,922 set in 2011 in Houston, Texas, and ousted the 70,366 who witnessed the Seahawks-Falcons divisional playoff. The numbers were impressive – as was the noise – but not enough to top what Giacomini has experienced here in the Emerald City.
“Let’s just say it sounded like a second down in Seattle when our ‘D’ is on the field,” he said of the crowd noise in the Georgia Dome. “I can’t say it was like third down, because no one can match that in any sport.”
A 2008 Louisville graduate, Giacomini has been living in the state of Kentucky since 2004. The rivalry between the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky runs deep, and the two are separated by just 76 miles down Interstate-64. Needless to say, Monday’s win that brought the championship from Lexington to Louisville was big.
“For the basketball team to bring it back to the ‘Ville is huge,” Giacomini said. “This is a basketball state, so the fans are diehard. It’s something that Louisville has been waiting on for a long time. The man behind it deserves all the credit – our athletic director Tom Jurich.
“Hopefully we can pull in another ‘Ship tonight with the Lady Cards.”
That’s right, Louisville’s hoop dreams aren’t over just yet. They’ve become just the third school to have both women’s and men’s basketball teams in the NCAA Title Games in the same year. The Lady Cards are set to take on the University of Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA women’s National Championship at 5:30 p.m. PT.
And you can bet Giacomini will be watching.
Fellow Louisville alum and Seahawks defensive end Greg Scruggs is also hoping the Lady Cards can bring the championship home tonight:
Following last night’s NCAA Championship, quarterback Russell Wilson had a personal message for Louisville point guard Peyton Siva: