ATLANTA -- Eat your heart out basketball fans, for the NCAA tournament title game Monday shall be a buffet of gluttonous proportions.

Last year, the championship game was a mere steppingstone toward a larger goal for national champion Kentucky, which had a record six players selected in the NBA draft, and runner-up Kansas, which had two. This year's installment between Louisville and Michigan might not feature a similarly eye-popping horde of first-round locks, but the high-wattage star power could easily fuel the Georgia Dome.

The Wolverines' Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III boast the NBA names and genes. Cardinals guard Russ Smith has become college basketball's most fascinating figure, equal parts brilliance and blunder. Michigan point guard Trey Burke might need a closet to stock his treasure trove of national awards. Throw in NCAA tournament standouts Mitch McGary and Luke Hancock, and the talent pool starts to overflow.

And that's without mentioning injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware, whose seated courtside presence filled every dead space on the CBS telecast of the national semifinals Saturday.

"I think you got a lot of great players on that court," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Sunday. "You don't know which ones are going to step up. ... A lot of teams when you watch them, you get nervous a little bit because they do so many things well."


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Then there's Pitino himself, whose hourlong media session Sunday contained a story about how he nearly became Michigan's coach, passing references to two movies and several cracks at smiling center Gorgiu Dieng, sitting three seats to the left. It's Pitino's third appearance in the national title game.

"He's changed," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Good coaches do. ... He continues to change. That's what I'm trying to measure right now ... what he's doing the best right now. And he does everything well."

Among the things Pitino and Beilein did well Saturday was getting the most out of their reserves when their stars had off nights. Louisville starting point guard Peyton Siva and Burke disappeared in the semifinals, shooting a combined 2 for 17. In Siva's wake arose walk-on Tim Henderson, who scored three points in Big East games this season before canning two clutch corner 3-pointers. Burke's bad night was somewhat negated by sudden celebrity Spike Albrecht, who in just four minutes of play hit two long 3-pointers of his own.

"It's that mystery of the young kid, the altar boy, the choir boy like Spike, the 18-year-old kid that hasn't played well coming in and making big baskets that makes this game so great," Beilein said. "It's incredible what the little guy has meant to college basketball, how it keeps being so exciting."

To top it off, Louisville and Michigan genuinely might be the nation's two best teams, boasting more than a lucky March Madness streak.