(3) Florida vs. (4) Michigan
The clock struck midnight on the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Friday night against the Gators. Early on it looked like they were going to run them out of the building, but the Gators’ defense just needed awhile to get situated. Once it got warmed up, points became hard to come by for the Eagles. They were held to 50 points, a tournament low, and they committed 19 turnovers as they fell 62-50. Three players scored in double figures for the Gators, with Mike Rosario’s 15 points and five rebounds leading the way. The Gators really did a good job of crashing the offensive glass, grabbing 13. In the Elite Eight against the Michigan Wolverines, the Gators have to be at their absolute best defensively because the Wolverines can really attack them from all angles. The Gators can’t let McGary have a big game. The Wolverines typically don’t turn it over at a high rate, but if the Gators can force them to uncharacteristically do so they’ll be in a very good position to get back to the Final Four for the first time since Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer led the program to back-to-back national championships.
The odds were stacked against the Wolverines as they trailed the Kansas Jayhawks, 74-69, with 32 seconds remaining. They needed a lot to go their way just to send the game into overtime, but Trey Burke put on his cape and went on a 5-0 run, which included a game-tying three with five seconds remaining that was closer to the halfcourt line than it was the three point line. In the extra session the Wolverines came out on top 87-85, narrowly avoiding elimination. Freshman center Mitch McGary took it to Jeff Withey, putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds to his 12 points and eight boards. If McGary continues to play like the best big man in the tournament, the Wolverines may be the team to beat. In the Elite Eight, the Wolverines are going to be tested by one of the best defensive teams remaining in the field. They’re going to have to avoid prolonged droughts offensively the best they can and get another big effort from McGary inside against the tough and physical big men of Florida.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Michigan. The Wolverines will be able to have more success against Florida’s defense than any team in the tournament has so far and move onto the Final Four.