Michigan held off a late Florida State rally and hung on for a 58-54 win over Florida State in the West Regional Semifinal. With the victory, the Wolverines advance to their second Final Four in six seasons under John Beilein.
Talk about a defensive battle. The teams combined to shoot just 35-of-100 from the field, as length and athleticism bothered each roster for long stretches. But in the end, Michigan’s run early in the second half gave the Wolverines some breathing room as FSU struggled to score. Junior guard Charles Matthews led Michigan with 17 points and eight rebounds. The Wolverines forced Florida State into 15 turnovers, and scored 12 points off those takeaways. Michigan also outscored FSU 28-20 in the paint.
Michigan’s 11-0 run early in the second half gave the Wolverines a 38-28 lead, and forced FSU to call a timeout with 14:20 to go to stop the bleeding. Moe Wagner, who attempted just three shots in the first half, got going in the second, scoring seven of his 12 points after the break including back-to-back scores midway through the second half as Michigan started to pull away with 7:46 to go.
Wagner picked up his fourth foul with 6:43 to go and headed to the bench, but Florida State could never get closer than three. Two nights after shooting lights out from three, Michigan struggled from long distance, hitting just 4-of-22 attempts. But Duncan Robinson’s three with 2:21 to go was the dagger Michigan needed, putting the Wolverines up 10.
Michigan advances to play Loyola-Chicago, one of the best Cinderella stories in recent memory, in the national semifinal at the Final Four in San Antonio. The Wolverines, a No. 3 seed loaded with athleticism and one of the tournament’s best players in Wagner, are theoretically a big favorite. But at this point, we should all know better than to count out Sister Jean and the Ramblers.
Michigan last made the Final Four in 2013, when the Wolverines lost in the national title game to Louisville.