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No. 1 Michigan Cruises Past No. 4 FSU; Advances to 4th Men's Elite 8 Since 2013

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2021

Michigan forward Brandon Johns Jr. (23) dunks over Florida State center Tanor Ngom (34) during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Michigan Wolverines are going to the Elite Eight.

Again.

Michigan advanced to the Elite Eight for the fourth time in nine years with a 76-58 victory over the Florida State Seminoles in Sunday's Sweet 16 showdown at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Brandon Johns Jr., Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner led the way for the No. 1 seed in the East Region of the 2021 NCAA men's tournament.

A solid showing from Malik Osborne was not enough for the fourth-seeded Seminoles, who fell two wins shy of their first Final Four since 1972.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Michigan blows out Florida State to advance to the Elite Eight 🔥 https://t.co/2D02qoMQKI

        

Notable Player Stats

  • Brandon Johns Jr., F, UM: 14 PTS, 6 REB, 2 STL
  • Hunter Dickinson, C, UM: 14 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK
  • Franz Wagner, G, UM: 13 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST
  • Malik Osborne, F, FSU: 12 PTS, 6 REB
  • M.J. Walker, G, FSU: 10 PTS, 2 REB

           

Michigan Cruises Behind Balanced Effort in Livers' Absence

It's hard to dial up the pressure higher than it already is for players heading into a Sweet 16 game, but that was the case for the Wolverines when CBS Sports' Tracy Wolfson reported Isaiah Livers was out for the rest of the Big Dance.

That put even more of the onus on the rest of the team, although that has been the case since the Big Ten tournament.

The Wolverines looked up to the task without their second-leading scorer while quickly jumping out to a double-digit lead by getting it down low to Dickinson and Johns. Wagner also helped on the boards, while Chaundee Brown provided a spark off the bench with his shooting.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

IT’S TOO EASY FOR MICHIGAN. https://t.co/NHNz5WIVA9

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Michigan making it look too easy 🔥 @umichbball #MarchMadness https://t.co/OuvKd99Rb1

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Wolverines with a HUGE slam 💥 @umichbball #MarchMadness https://t.co/PPqtxhJuGV

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

This Mike Smith and-1 is TOUGH 😤 https://t.co/ahGYFRmVxz

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Brandon Johns back-to-back 🔨 Michigan came to play https://t.co/cbfulwybcl

Yet it was the Big Ten squad's defense that truly set the tone and prevented Florida State from establishing any type of rhythm.

It wasn't a complete cakewalk for the Wolverines, who had to deal with full-court pressure in the second half while protecting their commanding lead. Florida State made a dent into that deficit, but Juwan Howard's club had an answer every time.

Much of the credit goes to the combination of Wagner, Eli Brooks and Mike Smith. The trio handled the ball against that pressure, limited turnovers, attacked when openings presented themselves and facilitated when multiple defenders collapsed as Michigan pulled away.

Throw in the post presence of Dickinson and Johns' scoring burst, and the Maize and Blue look every bit the part of a Final Four team.

            

Florida State Can't Overcome Continued Offensive Problems

Watching Florida State basketball can sometimes feel like a painful chore.

After all, the Seminoles struggle with turnovers, go extended stretches without scoring and played through some downright ugly sequences in March. They turned it over 15 times in each of their first two games in the Big Dance, which was somehow a massive improvement after they turned it over 25 times in the loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament championship game.

They went 0-of-9 from three-point range in their first-round win over UNC Greensboro and looked equally abysmal out of the gates against the Wolverines.

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

Would love to see Leonard get to a Final Four to cap off his career, but you've got to be able to score when you get to this stage. His teams are just so clunky on offense.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

FSU cutting into the Michigan lead 👀 https://t.co/z4KtgYTTRz

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

FSU is getting hot from deep 👌 https://t.co/noZNoBnEw5

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Scottie Barnes keeping FSU in this one 😤 https://t.co/4FItTqRTC3

The ACC representative went 0-of-7 from deep with 10 turnovers on the way to an ugly 21 points and 11-point deficit by halftime. Every offensive trip was a difficult grind, as Michigan swarmed its ball-handlers and cut off driving and passing lanes while taking control of the game.

The Seminoles finally built some momentum early in the second half behind their full-court pressure. They even hit a couple of three-pointers to cut into the deficit, but that is when things started to completely unravel.

Scottie Barnes picked up his fourth foul with more than 15 minutes remaining, and M.J. Walker temporarily exited with an ankle injury. RaiQuan Gray also dealt with foul trouble that prevented him from attacking with his usual aggression, and the Seminoles finished with 14 turnovers.

All of that was far too much to overcome for a team that simply did not find its offensive footing throughout the month of March and will be watching the rest of the tournament as a result.

         

What's Next?

The Wolverines face the winner of the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and UCLA Bruins in the Elite Eight on Tuesday.