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3/24 Big Ten Preview: Florida State Stands Between Michigan and the Final Four

Can the Wolverines continue this magical run to San Antonio?

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

How does this tournament go by so quickly? We have now dwindled the field to the final eight teams. Meaning, that 60 teams have gone home in the last week and a half, which is astounding when you think about it. Despite the Big Ten being “down” this season, they have managed to thrust a few teams deep into the tournament. Coming off their stellar conference tournament performance, Michigan really has not missed a beat. They clobbered Texas A&M in their Sweet Sixteen match-up on Thursday evening.

Now, they turn their attention to the upstart Florida State Seminoles, who have their share of impressive victories in this tournament. Although they are only a nine seed, the Seminoles have defeated one-seeded Xavier and fourth-seeded Gonzaga in this tournament. If they are able to get by the Wolverines, they would be the first nine seed to make the Final Four since Wichita State in 2013.

Both teams are on hot streaks coming into this game, and for different reasons too. Will one team cool off? Or do we have an imminent shootout?

Game of the Day

#3 Michigan Wolverines vs #9 Florida State Seminoles

  • Time/TV: 8:49 PM ET - TBS
  • Spread: Michigan (-4.5)

Michigan and Florida State are coming off phenomenal Sweet Sixteen performances. The Wolverines dominated Texas A&M in every facet of the game. However, their shooting performance is one of the best I have ever seen. Michigan finished the game shooting 61 percent from the field and 58 percent from three. They also forced the Aggies into 14 turnovers over the course of the game. Quite frankly, even if Texas A&M would have played up to their potential, I still do not think the Aggies would have won. The Wolverines were just that dominant for the full 40 minutes.

As for Florida State, they come off a win over Gonzaga where they controlled the game from the opening tip. Thanks to some stifling defense, the Bulldogs were locked down by the Seminoles. By game’s end, Gonzaga ended up shooting a paltry 34 percent from the field and just 25 percent from three. Keep in mind, this was a Gonzaga team that shot almost 50 percent from the field and 36 percent from three during the regular season. Credit Florida State and their defense, that is what got them to this point.

Now, the big sticking point going into Michigan’s game with Texas A&M was how much more athletic the Aggies were. Obviously, that did not matter in the grand scheme of the game. Coming into this contest, Florida State is also the more athletic team. Chances are Michigan will not shoot as well as they did the game before. This will allow Florida State to use their physicality and athleticism to try and grind Michigan down. That is exactly what they did with Gonzaga and it worked extremely well.

You also have to keep in mind that Florida State is a good three-point shooting team too. They can compete if this game turns into a shootout. Where the Seminoles run into trouble is their prowess for wanting to block shots. If their big men get into foul trouble at any point, that will deplete the core of the Florida State defense. One has to assume that the Wolverine guards will be aggressive going at the basket early in this game.

However, all of these points become moot if Michigan continues to shoot like they did against Texas A&M. If that is the case, the Seminoles can stick around for a little while, but the Wolverines should pull away. Finally, keep an eye on the pace of play. Florida State loves to dictate the pace by getting the ball out in transition. If they are able to do this, they actually have a slight advantage.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Florida State