For the first time in 25 years, the Florida State Seminoles are headed to the Elite Eight.
While it would have been reasonable to expect a second-round win over No. 1 Xavier to represent the peak of FSU's 2018 NCAA tournament run, the No. 9 Seminoles extended their stay in upset city for at least one more round as they stunned the No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs, 75-60, in a West Regional semifinal Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Noles hardly put on an offensive clinic, but they had 11 different players enter the scoring column. Junior Terance Mann led that group with 18 points (8-of-13 shooting), and he was the only Seminoles player to finish in double figures.
However, Florida State didn't need boatloads of points or a particularly efficient attack, for that matter, to get past Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs were in a funk all night, and they looked like a shell of the team that dropped 90 points and drilled nine threes in a second-round win against Ohio State.
While forward Rui Hachimura did well to collect 16 points and nine rebounds, Gonzaga's other scorers failed to show up with a second straight trip to the Elite Eight on the line.
Zach Norvell Jr.—who erupted for 28 points against the Buckeyes—managed 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and a decent chunk of that output came with Gonzaga in catch-up mode over the final five minutes of regulation. Plus, it didn't help that versatile forward Killian Tillie was ruled out shortly before tipoff because of a hip injury.
The Seminoles defense also proved disruptive to the tune of nine blocks and eight steals in a performance that highlighted the sheer length and quickness of head coach Leonard Hamilton's group.
"Physically, probably easily the most physically imposing and athletically gifted team we've faced maybe in the 20 years I've been head coach, I would say," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few told reporters Wednesday, per the Orlando Sentinel's Safid Deen.
With another upset in hand, Florida State will now set its sights on the program's first Final Four appearance since 1972.
Next up for the Seminoles is a West Regional Final date with the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines, who erupted for 99 points in a Sweet 16 thrashing of Texas A&M on Thursday.