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FSU coach Leonard Hamilton: ‘Wouldn’t surprise me at all’ to see Michigan win national title

Michigan is drawing praise from its Sweet 16 opponent.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Florida State at Michigan Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are headed to the Elite Eight after a blowout win over Florida State on Sunday afternoon. It was one of Michigan’s most complete performances of the season with contributions from the entire roster.

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton complimented Juwan Howard and the Wolverines for their performance on Sunday.

“I thought they did an excellent job in their preparation and their execution,” he said. “Many times, when you watch teams on film, you feel like you have a pretty good idea of their strengths and their weaknesses. Many times this year, people have looked at us in a similar fashion. Once they got on the court, our system sometimes is not quite what people think it is, and this is the case here.

This team executed so well. Their spacing was unbelievable. They were extremely patient. We had a hard time turning them over. They really, really played off of their big guy. We spent so much time trying to defend Hunter, and they get to their perimeter shooters, when the clock would run down to with about ten seconds left on the shot clock, they continue to keep staying in their system, and they executed and made plays right toward the end. That’s what a good team will do.

There’s no doubt that this team, from an execution standpoint, from a decision-making standpoint, they are playing to who they are. I said prior to the game that the team who would win this game would be the team who was the best version of who they were, and I think they were the best version of Michigan tonight. Even though I thought we could have played a little better, I’m not really sure that Michigan didn’t have a lot to do with our inability to play as well as we have played sometime during the course of the year.”

One of the biggest storylines coming into the game was the relationship shared by Howard and Hamilton, who crossed paths during Howard’s NBA career. The two remained in touch with a mutual respect for each other.

Hamilton believes his former pupil could be someone that stands tall as the last coach standing before this tournament is over.

“I will say this,” Hamilton said. “If Michigan plays as well as they played today in terms of their focus and their execution and their spacing and the way they were connected today... I mean, they were almost flawless in their execution. I was extremely impressed with how ready they were to play. They maintained their composure. From start to finish, they never deviated.

They had that stretch there where I think we might have cut it to four or five there in the second half, but they continued to keep executing. There were about three or four possessions there where I thought we defended them by as well as they can be defended, and I thought we were having a good possession, and then they would have a guy — one of our players would turn their head, and they would make a dive cut and finish a basket there after we have spent a lot of energy defending them for part of the shot clock.

So that’s a team that really, really knows who they are. They know how to play to each other, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all for them to be standing there on Monday night with their finger up saying they’re number 1.”

No. 1 seed Michigan will take on No. 11 seed UCLA in the Elite Eight on Tuesday evening. The tip time has been set for 9:57 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast via TBS.