The Louisville Cardinals had to pull out a gut-wrenching, emotional victory in the Elite Eight over the Duke Blue Devils to land their boarding passes to Atlanta for the Final Four.
The story, of course, isn't so much that the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed beat the Duke Blue Devils 85-63 on Sunday, but that they did so after watching backup guard Kevin Ware break his lower right leg in a horrific fashion right in front of the Louisville bench.
It was a touching scene, once you got past the absolute grisly nature of the injury. Forward Wayne Blackshear fell to the floor crying and Rick Pitino wiped away tears during the nine-minute delay in the game as Ware was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
Chane Behanan came out as the game came to a close wearing Ware's jersey, and the Cardinals elected to leave the nets hanging after the win as they chase the NCAA title nets in Atlanta. As Peyton Siva told reporters after the game, Ware said to win the game for him as he was taken off the floor in a stretcher.
"Just go win this game for me. Just go win this game. Don't worry about me, I'm fine. Just go win this game.' I don't know how he did it. I don't know how he got strength to do it, but he told us to go out there and win."
In the aftermath of the injury, SB Nation's Card Chronicle got a doctor's take on the incident:
Open tibia fractures are very often high-energy injuries seen in automobile and motorcycle accidents. It is unusual to see this type of injury when a player is simply landing from a jump. The way that Ware's tibia snapped as soon as he landed makes me wonder if he already had a stress fracture in the tibia and was just playing through the pain. Sometimes players don't even report aches and pains that they may have for fear of losing playing time. Stress fractures, if untreated, can eventually lead to injuries such as this.
Ware underwent successful surgery on the leg a couple of hours after suffering the break, and he hopes to be able to travel with the team to Atlanta for the Final Four.