The Michigan Wolverines are heading to the Elite Eight for the first time under head coach Juwan Howard. The East Region’s No. 1 seed blew out four-seed Florida State on Sunday afternoon by a score of 76-58. They will take on either Alabama or UCLA on Tuesday evening.
This was another complete team effort for the Wolverines, who have transitioned from lost without Isaiah Livers to thriving in his absence. Michigan was led by 14 points apiece from Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns Jr., who is playing the best basketball of his career. Franz Wagner added 13 points, while Chaundee Brown had 12 points off the bench.
Michigan shot 49 percent on the day despite a 27 percent mark from three-point range (3-for-11). The Wolverines found most of their success inside the paint, finishing with 50 of the team’s 76 points down low.
This was a clinical performance from Michigan on both ends of the floor. Florida State is known for its length and athleticism with the added dimension this season of being able to get hot from the perimeter. Florida State hit five of its looks from beyond the arc on 20 attempts. All of them came in the second half.
Despite a size advantage, Michigan was able to get whatever it wanted in the post and outrebound the Seminoles by a 37-31 margin. The Wolverines also brought a tremendous work ethic to the floor. It looked like Florida State was defeated at several points in the game despite being within striking distance.
This was essentially a wire-to-wire victory for Michigan, as they trailed for only 15 seconds in the game. It was a rough go of it offensively early on as each team felt each other out, but the Wolverines were more up for the task once they analyzed the fight pattern that FSU was throwing at them. They would go into the locker room up 32-21 at the half and it easily could have been more.
Florida State was able to claw back into the game and get the deficit down to five points at 41-36, but the Wolverines would respond with a quick 7-0 run to take a 48-36 lead. The Seminoles started to fade with about 10 minutes left in the game, which allowed Michigan the chance to take a 23-point lead and empty its bench.
Calling a spade a spade, Juwan Howard coached circles around Leonard Hamilton on Sunday. Florida State is bigger, more athletic and arguably deeper than the Wolverines are, but Michigan had the biggest mismatch in the game on its own sideline.
FSU’s size advantage, namely in the backcourt, was a cause for concern for some in regards to Mike Smith. Smith struggled against a similarly-sizable guard rotation against LSU. He was much more up to the challenge in this game and finished with eight points, four assists and three rebounds. His performance was much stronger than that, as he helped to simply run the offense and take what the Seminoles gave him.
Not mentioned yet in this recap is Austin Davis, who had a workmanlike game. He finished with six points on 3-for-3 shooting and was plus-18 in eight minutes of play.
Michigan is on to its fourth Elite Eight appearance in eight years, which is crazy to think about. The ride and the fun continues.