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Highlight-reel dunks from Harrell and Hardaway Jr. shook Atlanta

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What. A. Game.

What we witnessed on Monday night in the Georgia Dome may go down as one of the best, most entertaining National Championship games in the 75 year history of the NCAA Tournament. Louisville’s 82-76 victory over Michigan was not only the best game of the NCAA tournament, but also the best game of the entire season.

Early on it was clear that we were in for something special.

Trey Burke scored Michigan’s first seven points of the game. The Wolverines shot out to a 12-point lead on the shoulders of Spike Albrecht and his 17 first half points. But then Louisville made their run. Luke Hancock hit three-straight 3-pointers to cut the Michigan lead to just one, 36-35.

Then this happened.

Did you see where Peyton Siva left the ball for Montrezl Harrell? He had to jump and catch the ball from no more than two steps inside the foul line. It doesn’t matter how tall Harrell is. That was an impossible ally-oop to catch, let alone finish.

That should have been it. That was one of the best ally-oops of the season. But there was a reason why last night’s National Championship game was one of the best of all time.

Then this happened.

It’s safe to assume that Tim Hardaway Sr. could not dunk like that.

Harrell and Hardaway threw down two of the best dunks of the tournament, both coming in the most important game of the year.

But the National Championship game often showcases some of the best dunks of the tournament on a yearly basis. Who will ever forget Grant Hill’s monstrous one-handed ally-oop dunk against Kansas in the 1991 National Championship game.

Then there was Lorenzo Charles’ buzzer-beating tip-dunk that gave North Carolina State the 1983 National Championship victory over Houston, widely considered the greatest buzzer-beater in NCAA Tournament history.

The best players play their best when the stage is brightest and there is no stage brighter than the National Championship game. As redundant as that sounds, we have the video footage to back it up.

#DunkCity took over the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but Montrezl Harrell and Tim Hardaway Jr. reminded us that it didn’t end when the FGCU Eagles were eliminated in the Sweet 16.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir.

WATCH LIVE: Hofstra travels to Delaware on NBCSN

James Madison forward Yohanny Dalembert (40) prepares to shoot against Hofstra forward Rokas Gustys, behind, during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)
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Hofstra tries to keep pace with the conference’s elite as they travel to Delaware on Saturday afternoon. You can watch this CAA battle live on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. EST.

The Pride (17-8, 9-4) are currently two games behind conference leader UNC-Wilmington and they’re trying to make a run to close out the season. Senior guard Juan’ya Green leads the Pride in points (17.7 ppg), assists (7 apg) and steals (1.8 spg) and he’s surrounded by a dangerous supporting cast.

Delaware (6-18, 1-12) had lost 15 consecutive games before beating Drexel in their last game. The Blue Hens have struggled in CAA play but Kory Holden (17.5 ppg, 4 apg) will try to help lead the upset.

These two teams met on Dec. 31 with Hofstra winning that one, 90-80, at home.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.