Start packing for Texas Michigan fans, the Wolverines are making their second trip to the Final 4 in the past six years. They survived the road of the upset filled South region and have made their way to San Antonio where they will compete for their first national championship in 29 years.
Let’s see what we can takeaway from Michigan’s Elite 8 win against the Florida State Seminoles.
What We Learned:
This is the Charles Matthews Michigan expected
The production that Charles Matthews has put in during the tournament is more than impressive. Especially with the way he was struggling to make shots heading in. In some cases, an argument can be made that the Wolverines would not be making next weekend’s trip to San Antonio with Matthews. He saved them against Florida State.
With Michigan’s offense struggling again from the floor, Matthews put on an offensive display. He scored a game-high 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field, and went 4-of-6 at the free-throw line, an area he has struggled in all year.
Matthews has been locked in all tournament. He is the only Wolverine to finish each game of the NCAA Tournament in double figures ( 20 vs Montana, 11 vs Houston, 18 vs. Texas A&M, 17 vs. FSU). And they cant afford him to slow down. These were the type of offense explosions Michigan fans were expected when Matthews transferred from Kentucky. Now, with Matthews at the peak of his offensive game, it could very well lead Michigan to a national championship.
A title is now in sight, and should be expected
The Wolverines got an easier route to the Final Four. There is no denying that. But don’t blame Michigan for the road they took. it is not their fault. They can’t be blamed for other teams not holding up their end of the bargain. Survive and advance is the name of the game and now the Wolverines are two wins away from their first national title since 1989.
The road is set and clear. The madness of the left side of the bracket has left Michigan with a date against 11-seeded Loyola-Chicago out of the South Region in the national semi-finals. The Blue Bloods of college basketball are still duking it out (no pun intended) to fill out the final two spots in San Antonio.
With the way, Michigan has been able to get to where they are now (using their strengths on both offense and defense), a championship should be the expectation. The Wolverines can match up with anybody, play with any team’s style, and beat anybody. And the expectation is that they should win it all because they can. Their class-men provide a calm presence on the court with firepower in their offensive skill-sets. While freshman contributions fill the arena with energy that not many other teams can provide.
Now all they have to do is survive and advance two more times.
This is not an unexpected run from the Wolverines. They entered the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, winning nine straight. And they have been able to do it in a variety of ways. If Michigan’s offense is non-existent which it can be from time-to-time, their defense keeps them in games. Or the Wolverines can blow teams out of the water like Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 with a barrage of three-pointers.
On the clock now is Loyola-Chicago who are making their first Final Four appearance since 1963. The Ramblers run a fast-paced offense that could give Michigan some trouble. However, expect the Wolverines to utilize their size advantage with Wagner and Matthews as well as their stifling defense to take control of the game.