NCAA Latest: Florida State-Michigan could go down to wire
Mar 26 2018 by Kristina Bennett
The 3-seed Michigan Wolverines returned to their first final four since 2013 after defeating the 9-seed Florida State Seminoles, 58-54, this past Saturday night.
Phil Cofer scored 16 to lead Florida State.
Florida State guard M.J. Walker, left, and MI guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman vie for the ball during the first half of an NCAA men's college basketball tournament regional final Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Los Angeles.
With Michigan up by four, Florida State allowed the Wolverines to dribble out the clock without fouling again. And suddenly the Wolverines were ahead 38-28. It can win with defense and after holding the Seminoles to just 54 points and 32 percent shooting, UM did just that.
MI had developed a defense after years of offensive superiority.
It's unfathomable to me that a team could pour its blood, sweat and tears into a basketball season for five months, and then just give up with 11 seconds to go in a still-winnable regional final. Players hit the floor but couldn't hit a basket. Then, after an FSU hoop, another free throw pushed it to four points.
Matthews and Simpson scored inside to make it 51-44 heading down the stretch, and Robinson finally tripled from the corner at 2:25 to push the lead to 10 and force a Florida State timeout.
Abdur-Rahkman hit only one of two free throws, and FSU cut it to three on a P.J. Savoy triple.
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.
Michigan's winning streak ranks second in the country to the team it will play next: Loyola-Chicago, which has seen its own streak grow to 14 games during its Cinderella run.
The crowd, loaded with MI alumni who live in southern California, joyously began to chant, "Let's go, Blue". You can't play defense any harder than the Seminoles did in holding a MI team coming off a 99-point game Thursday to just 58.
The Wolverines (32-7) have tamped down three consecutive teams with designs on pulling surprises - No. 6 seed Houston, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 9 Florida State.
MI guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (12) shoots between Florida State guard M.J. Walker (23) and forward Mfiondu Kabengele (25) during the first half of an NCAA men's college basketball tournament regional final Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Los Angeles.
But at the half, it was MI, 27-26. Both teams played a little out of character. MI has looked like one of the best teams in the country since their run to win the Big-10 Championship and has been led by their defense which ranks 8th in scoring defense and is giving up just an average of 59.0 ppg in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines were going inside and getting fouled. The Wolverines made 3 of 5 free throws in the closing seconds to hang on for their school-record 32nd win.