The Big Ten might have underwhelmed in the opening weekend of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but Michigan was able to move on to the Sweet 16 after knocking off Texas Southern and LSU and now finds itself facing off against Florida State on Sunday. The game figures to be a tight one with quality defense on both sides.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-No. 1 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 4 Florida State Seminoles
- Time/TV: 5:00PM ET (CBS)
- KenPom Spread: Michigan by 4
It’s been quite a season for the Wolverines. After entering the year with mixed expectations, Michigan vastly overachieved. The team started the season at 11-0 overall, reached 18-1 at the end of February, won the Big Ten regular season title, and has now reached the Sweet 16. That’s a list of accomplishments that would leave most programs satisfied. But of course, Juwan Howard and the Wolverines are certainly hoping for more this weekend.
And that brings on Florida State. After scoring double-digit victories against UNC Greensboro and Colorado, the Seminoles advanced to the Sweet 16. It’s the third straight time the program has reached that mark. Unfortunately, that run hasn’t included a Final Four to the chagrin of Seminole fans. In fact, Florida State hasn’t made it to the Final Four since 1972. Many thought the Seminoles could make it in 2018, but the team fell short against Michigan in the Elite Eight. As such, there should be a little extra fire to this one.
Like Michigan, Florida State is a well balanced team. The Seminoles have top 30ish offensive and defensive units and play one of the deepest benches in the country. Accordingly, nobody really dominates the team’s production. Guard Scottie Barnes is Florida State’s most productive player, but even he only plays 58.6 percent of the team’s minutes, so it’s hard to say he’s carrying things. It’s a true team effort.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Florida State’s style of play is the team’s impressive length. The Seminoles are the tallest team in the country and virtually every contributor is 6-foot-6 or bigger, led by star players Barnes (6-foot-9) and RaiQuan Gray (6-foot-8). It’s going to put a ton of pressure on Michigan’s guards in transition and on Hunter Dickinson as he tries to pass out of the post. Expect Florida State to clog passing lanes and create some turnovers in this one. The key will be avoiding too many for Michigan.
The player to watch for Michigan on Sunday is Dickinson. Not only because he’s the team’s best player, but also because of his matchup. The Wolverine big man should have an advantage down low. However, he’s likely going to get additional pressure from Florida State’s defense. How he responds to that will be key. If he can find open shooters outside and catch Franz Wagner on some off ball motion, there should be some opportunities.
Michigan’s defense is also going to have its hands full with a pretty loaded offense. Slowing down Barnes is going to be the key there. Don’t be surprised if Juwan Howard shifts Brooks, Wagner, and Johns onto Barnes for segments to try and reduce his impact. Anthony Polite and MJ Walker will also be players to watch on the perimeter. Both are shooting above 40 percent from deep this season.
All told, expect a tough and physical game that will come down to the closing minutes. This is a game where Isaiah Livers (out with injury) would really help Michigan. However, the Wolverines will certainly have a shot. We’ll see how it goes.
- Pick: Florida State