Health Care

Michigan's defense overpowered FSU in last seconds to advance to Final Four

Michigan's defense overpowered FSU in last seconds to advance to Final Four

If P.J. Savoy makes his three-pointer on the other end, suddenly it's a one-point game with 29 seconds left, and MI is going back to the line for two more pressure foul shots. It can win with defense and after holding the Seminoles to just 54 points and 32 percent shooting, UM did just that.

Seminoles' big man Christ Koumadje picked up two quick fouls, and FSU coach Leonard Hamilton went to a line change, making several substitutions.

After a basket by Florida State to open the second half, MI went on an 11-0 run over the next five minutes. Yet Michigan could only manage one field goal of its own in the last 8:44 before halftime, also missing four free throws.

Phil Cofer scored 16 to lead Florida State. The Seminoles shot 31.4 percent, just 23.5 percent (4 of 17) from deep.

Now they'll face the most improbable opponent of all - 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago in San Antonio.

I guess it's fitting that they were the game they finally won comfortably.

On Sunday afternoon, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton explained why he had been unwilling to answer a simple question from CBS's Dana Jacobson, behavior that brought criticism and focused attention on the harsh spotlight of a turnaround interview.

It will be the program's second trip to the Final Four under coach John Beilein, who took the program back to the tournament after an 11-year absence in 2009.

Neither team looked very good in the first half, though.

Florida State froze, there's no other way to put it.

The Wolverines trounced Texas A&M by 27 points in the regional semifinals, hitting 10 of their 14 3-pointers in the first half.




The Seminoles were struggling to get off even poor shots, as the MI defense swarmed around the paint and the free-throw line.

MI shot 38.8 percent, just 18.2 percent (4 of 22) from beyond the arc.

MI will now face off with Cinderella story Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four next week.

Ben Richardson was the offensive catalyst for Loyola as he shot 6-for-7 from 3-point range and finished with 23 points.

When Michigan headed home from Chicago following a sloppy loss at Northwestern on February 6, it would have been hard to point to anything about it that was memorable or significant. He added a team-leading eight rebounds. MI is moving on to the Final Four despite not playing their best and they deserve credit for that.

But this isn't any ordinary 11 seed.

A handful of fatal errors by the Noles in the final two minutes of the Sunday's Elite Eight showdown helped give MI a win.

Loyola, looking to extend its 13-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation, has answered every challenge from the Wildcats. The Ramblers are averaging 7.5 three-pointers per game on 40.0 shooting from beyond the arc. Neither team shot well, both turned it over too much, there were a lot of fouls and there was never really any decent flow in the game. The Ramblers haven't made it back to another Final Four. But at this point, we should all know better than to count out Sister Jean and the Ramblers. Schools from non-power conferences don't often get this far. "That might change in the second half, but at the same time, we've got to understand we may not make shots, (but) we're still going to win the game with our defense".

Wichita State of the Missouri Valley made it in 2013.

Then again, the Wolverines didn't light it up against Florida State's defense either, going 4 for 22 on 3-pointers.

Time to punch the first two tickets to the Final Four. The second game Saturday night is in Los Angeles, where No. 3 seed MI plays No. 9 seed Florida State. The victor will play for the national championship. Quite a feat considering three of those teams faced at least some bubble uncertainty in the final month of the regular season.


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