As March Madness is almost here, we take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of the best viral moments in NCAA tournament history. Here is Maize n Brew’s take on the memorable Spike Albrecht:
The improbable run of John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines to the 2012-13 National Championship is still talked about as one of the best seasons for the program since the days of the Fab Five. There were plenty of great moments throughout the season — Trey Burke’s late three-pointer against Kansas, starting the season 19-1 overall, Burke’s steal in the final seconds of the Michigan State game at the Crisler Center to seal the deal. The season was an instant classic.
Another memorable moment came during the National Championship against Louisville, a controversial game given Burke’s “foul” and the NCAA vacating the Cardinals’ win due to a major recruiting scandal.
The aforementioned Burke was the MVP of the team all season long, but picked up some quick fouls early on in the game. Because of those fouls, not even five minutes into the game, Beilein turned to a true freshman to lead the offense — Spike Albrecht, a 6-foot lightly-recruited point guard.
Albrecht took over for Burke and instantly went bananas.
By the end of the first half, Albrecht had 17 points and was 4-of-4 from downtown.
During the halftime show on ESPN, former Michigan hoopster Jalen Rose had this to say about Albrecht’s performance:
“The only thing that’s going through my mind right now are some of the great point guards of all time. Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and Spike Albrecht.”
Albrecht really lit the college basketball world on fire for about 15 minutes; call it his 15 minutes of fame. But little did he know just about 12 hours later he would be even more famous for something completely unrelated.
One of the more famous people attending the game was supermodel Kate Upton. Albrecht didn’t even know she was there until sometime after the game. The morning after, Albrecht still felt on top of the world from his first-half heroics and was encouraged by some of his teammates to do this:
@KateUpton hey saw you at the game last night, thanks for coming out! Hope to see you again— Spike Albrecht (@SpikeAlbrecht) April 9, 2013
It takes guts to conjure up a tweet like that and hit send, knowing you probably don’t have a chance with a Sports Illustrated supermodel already in a relationship. But that’s the type of guy Albrecht is — a dude who just says “screw it, why not me?” He was doubted as a recruit (ranked No. 221 overall as a three-star in the class of 2012), doubted as a true freshman under the brightest of lights and doubted by many people the years following that performance.
But the only person who never doubted him was the head coach who recruited him out of high school.
“I think he’s still got a shot (with Upton),” Beilein said on WTKA-AM after the tweet went viral. “He’s got a shot. The young man has a lot of bravado to tweet the way he did. I think it was inspired by Nik Stauskas a little bit, he edged him on a little bit, his roommate. It’s all good. It’s fun. We want our kids to have great educations, we want them to win basketball games, we want them to enjoy themselves in the process. I think they’ve enjoyed themselves.”
Now, did Beilein actually think Albrecht stood a chance with Upton? I highly doubt it; it was very likely a tongue-in-cheek comment, but it goes to show the level of confidence Beilein had in him. Hell, sending the tweet out itself is a confident move. Albrecht didn’t need to be told he was a confident dude, but I’m sure it meant something coming from Coach B.
After sending out that tweet, Albrecht became a social media celeb for a little bit. There were nearly 2,000 stories written online about the tweet in just a matter of hours after it was sent, and Albrecht was the third-highest related Google search stemming from the tournament’s Google Trends section.
Unfortunately, Albrecht never really did much after that first half. His sophomore season saw him average 3.3 points per game in 37 games played. His junior year with Michigan was his best, when the co-captain with Caris LeVert averaged 7.5 points and 3.9 assists per game. But in April of his junior year, he had surgery on his hip to attempt to correct a genetic condition that runs in his family. He came back his senior year but only played in nine games before announcing he’d have to sit out the remainder of the season due to the previous hip issue.
If it weren’t for a scholarship crunch, Albrecht likely would have finished up at Michigan. After being told that news, he began looking around and eventually transferred to Purdue for one final season, a season that ended with a Big Ten Championship. He averaged 1.6 points and 1.3 assists in 28 games played for the Boilermakers.
Albrecht’s college basketball journey is a true roller coaster ride. It went from the highest of highs in the National Championship and shooting your shot with Kate Upton, to the lowest of lows with his career at Michigan become derailed by an injury, and then back to high again winning a Big Ten title.
That roller coaster ride came and went so quickly for Albrecht, just like his 15 minutes of fame from the tweet. But much like that 2012-13 Michigan basketball team, Spike Albrecht is a name that will live in program history forever.