Michigan defeats Florida State
With more defensive will than shooting skill, Michigan muscled its way back to the Final Four.
Charles Matthews scored 17 points and Michigan earned its first Final Four berth since 2013 with a 58-54 victory over Florida State on Saturday night in the West Region final.
Moe Wagner added 12 points as the Wolverines (32-7) earned their 13th consecutive victory by persevering through a defense-dominated second half and holding off a late charge from the Seminoles (23-12), who had already knocked off three higher-seeded opponents on their school’s longest NCAA Tournament run since 1993.
With tenacious defense and just enough made free throws down the stretch, Michigan hung on and advanced to San Antonio next weekend to face the underdog heroes of Loyola-Chicago (32-5), who stunned the sport by winning the South Region.
The third-seeded Wolverines are much less of a surprise, but the achievement is no less impressive for coach John Beilein’s squad, which wore its “Do More, Say Less” shirts throughout the week.
In fact, Michigan let its fans do the talking: The Wolverines had a distinct home-court advantage from thousands of vocal fans packed into the lower bowl of Staples Center, and they seemed to need all of those cheers to survive an off shooting night.
“I said we’re shooting 33 percent,” Beilein said. “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. We’ve just got to hang in there, don’t give them second shots, try and take away the 3 ball, the drive. We did a great job on defense.”
Phil Cofer scored 16 points for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (23-13), who couldn’t match their late rally past top-seeded Xavier last week because they simply couldn’t score consistently.