Why Michigan won: You name an area of the game, and Michigan dominated it in the opening half. So, the game essentially was over at that point. Michigan scorched the nets in the opening 20 minutes, hitting 51 percent of its shots and 63 percent from 3-point range. Wolverine freshman guard Nik Stauskas was on fire, draining all five of his 3-point attempts (all six shots overall) en route to tallying 19 first-half points. Trey Burke added 15 points and seven assists coming off a huge effort in the heart-stopping comeback victory over Kansas on Friday. Florida’s season ended in the Elite Eight for a third season in a row.
Key moment: Florida cut the Wolverine lead to 47-36 with 17:35 left in the game and had the ball with a chance to trim the deficit to single-digits. But the Gators faded from there and never threatened again, as Michigan outscored Florida, 32-23, the rest of the way to cruise to a 20-point triumph.
Key player: Nik Stauskas was unstoppable. The freshman from Canada hit 7-of-8 shots, including 6-of-6 from 3-point territory. He had 19 points in the first half and finished with 22. Also have to mention fellow freshman Mitch McGary. He had 11 points and nine rebounds, making just his sixth start of the season as he has continued to blossom in the NCAA tourney. McGary scored 13 points vs. South Dakota State in the first tourney game; then, 21 vs. VCU; 25 vs. Kansas and 11 today. No doubt, McGary benefits from the attention Trey Burke draws. And McGary takes advantage of it, as he’s much more offensively skilled than fellow Michigan big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford.
Key number: 52, Michigan’s shooting percentage from 3-point range (10-of-19). And, as usual, the Wolverines limited turnovers with just nine, while the Gators had 15.
What’s next: The Wolverines advance to the Final Four for the seventh time overall and first time since 1993, when Michigan lost the infamous Chris Webber “timeout” game to North Carolina. The Wolverines and “Fab Five” also played in the national title game in 1992, losing to Duke. Michigan last won it all in 1989, beating Seton Hall behind the shooting of Glen Rice. The Wolverines will play fellow No. 4 seed Syracuse in the Final Four in Atlanta after knocking off No. 13 South Dakota State; No. 5 VCU; No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Florida. The winner will move on to the national championship tilt.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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