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NCAA March Madness Elite Eight Preview: No. 3 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 9 Florida State Seminoles

In its third Elite Eight in six years, Michigan is one win away from the Final Four.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Texas A&M vs Michigan Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 3 Michigan Wolverines rolled the No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies on Thursday night, advancing to their third Elite Eight in six years.

There was a lot of speculation on whether Jordan Poole’s buzzer-beater three in the Second Round would be enough to spark some new life into the Wolverines. It’s fair to assume it did.

Michigan put together one of the best offensive performances we’ve seen from them in a long, long while.

The Wolverines shot 61.9 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from beyond the arc, scoring 99 points.

Eight different players hit a three-pointer to set an NCAA Tournament record, including walk-on CJ Baird, who pulled up and hit one in the final minute of the game.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit a team-high four trey’s and led the way with 24 points.

Michigan will play the No. 9 Florida State Seminoles after their win over the No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Here are three keys to ensure the Wolverines advance to the Final Four.

Tenacious D

Not only were the Wolverines unstoppable on offense against A&M, they played great defense. As one of the best defensive units in the nation — and arguably the best left in the tournament — they forced the Aggies to turn the ball over 14 times.

They’ll need to replicate that success Saturday night against a Seminoles team that really gets it done across the board. They finished 20-11 this season and have three scorers who average about 12 points a game.

Terance Mann (12.9), Phil Cofer (12.7) and Braian Angola (12.7) will likely draw the most amount of attention from Beilein. What makes head coach Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles so dangerous is the amount of production received from the entire roster.

The reserves have scored 42, 46, and 30 points in Florida State’s first three games of the tournament.

Michigan will need another lock-down effort on the defensive end to slow the Seminoles’ red-hot bunch.

The Big Three

Michigan is absolutely unstoppable when Moritz Wagner, Charles Matthews, and Abdur-Rahkman are in sync. When the three of them are on, nobody in the country can get their way.

We’ve seen a few stagnant offensive performances in the first two rounds of the tourney.

Matthews had really been the only consistent force for Beilein. He scored 20 against Montana and 11 versus Houston. Wagner had a combined 17 points in the first two rounds, and MAAR shot 7-for-26, including 1-12 from 3-point land.

Not ideal.

So when the three tallied a combined 63 points in a 99-point win, we really saw the potential of this team when these three are right.

And it’s a scary look for whoever matches up against the Wolverines.

An offensive showing like that is contagious, it doesn’t wear off. It took Michigan’s Big Three the first two rounds to find its groove together, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime sooner.

3-point land

I did not expect the Wolverines to shoot 58.3 percent from beyond the arc. I did not expect them to connect on 14 of their 24 attempts with eight different players hitting one.

I also don’t think it’s fair to expect them to shoot like that again. What we saw Thursday truly might be a once-in-a-lifetime type of offensive display.

That being said, it really goes to show how scary of a group Michigan is when they can hit the three-ball. They ran the Aggies out of the Staples Center within the first ten minutes of play. Against a red-hot team that had just defeated last year’s champions, the life was completely sucked out of ‘em with 30 minutes left to play.

Yet, Michigan was relentless. They pulled the Aggies out of their comfort zone and worked them all night on the perimeter.

The Seminoles, a 35.2 percent three-point shooting team of their own, will be in for a long night if Michigan is able to get the three-ball going.

Michigan is one of the better three-point shooting squads in the Big Ten at 37 percent, and will look to keep it rolling against a Florida State team that allows 73.3 points per game.

The Verdict

The Seminoles have a complete roster with all kinds of scorers. They’re red-hot after consecutive wins over No. 1 Xavier and No. 4 Gonzaga. They’ve got a pretty formidable backcourt in Mann and Angola.

It’s nearly impossible to bet against the Wolverines now. Just ask the odds makers in Las Vegas, who currently have the Wolverines owning the best odds to win it all at 3-to-1.

You’ve heard it a lot, that a John Beilein Michigan team has always lived and died by the three-ball. What we saw Thursday — an electric shooting performance topped by an even better defensive effort — makes this team so hard to bet against.

I’m picking them to survive and advance to the Final Four.

Game Info

Teams: No. 3 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 9 Florida State Seminoles

Date: March 24, 2018

Location: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California

Tipoff: 8:49 p.m. ET

Watch: TBS