In one of the more dominant performances of the NCAA tournament, Michigan defeated Florida by a score of 79-59 to advance to the Final Four.
The first half was all about the Wolverines, as they were simply more prepared to play. They scored the first 13 points of the game, and they continued to pound their opponent until they went up by as much as 24 points.
An 11-2 run by the Gators kept the game close at the half, but Michigan still led by 17 at intermission. At that point, the Big Ten team was shooting 51.4 percent from the field, including 7-of-11 from three-point range.
In the second half, Florida cut the lead to 47-36, but a couple of key turnovers put the momentum back in Michigan's favor. The lead went back up to 20, and the Gators had little fight left in them by the closing minutes.
Michigan was led offensively by a great shooting performance from Nik Stauskas. The freshman scored 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 6-for-6 from three-point range.
Fellow freshman Mitch McGary also had a huge game, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Trey Burke—the hero of the Sweet 16 win over Kansas—filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Meanwhile, most of the Florida starters struggled, with Kenny Boynton leading the way with 13 points. Will Yeguete also had 13 off the bench for the Gators.
Erik Murphy was probably the most disappointing, with zero points on 0-for-11 from the floor. The forward was the team's leading scorer on the season.
This is the third consecutive loss in the Elite Eight for Florida after falling to Butler and Louisville in the past two years. Many believed this season would be different after winning the SEC regular season title, but it ended in more of the same for the Gators.
Michigan moves on to the Final Four for the first time since 1993, when the squad lost to North Carolina in the National Championship Game.
In Atlanta, the Wolverines will have to attempt to beat Syracuse and its deadly 2-3 zone. So far in the tournament, the Orange have only allowed 45.8 points per game.
However, Michigan has time to worry about the next game. Right now, fans around the country should use this time to celebrate the great accomplishment of reaching the Final Four.
By halftime, many people watching the game were ready to pronounce it as over.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports gave his analysis of the first half in just a few short words:
Jerry Palm @jppalmCBS
Michigan up 17 at the half. Game not as close as the score would indicate.3/31/2013, 7:11:58 PM
The parody account Not SportsCenter was a bit meaner, predicting a surrender for the Gators:
SOURCE: This is what Florida has planned for the 2nd half against Michigan: http://t.co/b41TFezeOm3/31/2013, 7:09:18 PM
College basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb gave the squad a little more credit in the second half:
Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow
Florida playing like a bad cold, hanging around--3/31/2013, 7:50:13 PM
However, most Florida fans likely had this type of reaction while watching the game (via Michael Katz of USA Today):
Meanwhile, ESPN's Jay Bilas summed up the game perfectly with an old Bob Knight quote:
Jay Bilas @JayBilas
Bob Knight says "dumb loses more games than smart wins." Florida making some really dumb plays.3/31/2013, 7:43:41 PM
The winning team ended up with 13 steals in the contest, many of which turned into easy transition baskets.
Michigan is far from done. With this offense, the squad has the ability to contend in Atlanta for a national championship.
CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman discusses some of what makes the Wolverines so good:
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN
This is why Michigan so difficult to defend. Pick your poison. So many offensive weapons. Stauskas has his legs back.3/31/2013, 6:58:51 PM
Still, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports might have had the most surprising stat of the game:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Trey Burke was 5 months old when Michigan made its last Final Four appearance.3/31/2013, 7:09:00 PM
After a truly impressive performance in the Elite Eight, Michigan should be a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the NCAA tournament.
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