Michigan Basketball is set to take on Florida State in the Sweet 16 Sunday at 5 pm ET. on CBS.
It marks the fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance for the Wolverines, but the first with Juwan Howard at the helm. It’s amazing to think that Michigan Basketball has not missed a beat since the John Beilein era.
It’s a Michigan Basketball team that weathered the LSU storm after an early scare in the round of 32. The Wolverines got a sensational performance from Chaundee Brown. Brown came off the Michigan bench scoring 21 points and playing tremendous defense opposing either Cameron Thomas or Javonte Smart.
Senior guard Eli Brooks set the pace early, dropping 21 points on the Tigers behind, enjoying a 5 for 9 night beyond the arc. Before the game, Howard told his team to ’empty the tank,’ which became the motto for the evening and likely for the remainder of the tournament for Michigan Basketball.
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Michigan Basketball will need stretch-guard Franz Wagner to start hot against Florida State.
Wagner really didn’t start to make a significant impact against LSU until the second half of the game, but when the Wolverines needed him the most, he rose to the occasion. Wagner drilled a three-pointer late against the Tigers that felt like the dagger. With Isaiah Livers injured, the Wolverines will need Wagner to give them upwards of 16 to 20 points to secure a victory.
The Seminoles are strong on the glass, and the Wolverines will need a solid effort from freshman center Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson is a reliable double-digit inside scorer but will need to do a better job on the glass, especially on the defensive end, limiting FSU’s second-chance opportunities.
Florida State is long and athletic, which helps them excel on the defensive end. FSU’s lock-down defense has held their last four opponents to under a 36% conversion rate from the field. Needless to say, Michigan Basketball will need to fight through the wash, protect the basketball and shoot better than 36% to avoid an upset.
I expect FSU to converse on Dickinson the same way LSU did last game; it was something the film showed during the Texas Southern contest after forcing the center to turn it over six times. Dickinson only pulled down two boards in that Texas Southern game but followed it up with 11 against LSU but only turned it over three times.
The Wolverines should have plenty of opportunities to create more than three turnovers as they forced against LSU. FSU is prone to turnovers; they turned it over a whopping 15 times against Colorado yet still came away with a 71-53 victory.
I expect Howard to urge his group to push the pace and get out on the run to wear down the Seminole defense. Like every round of the tourney, Michigan will rely on their role players to play exceptionally well if they hope to earn a trip to the Elite Eight. Along with Wagner and Brown, Michigan Basketball will need a gallant effort from Brandon Johns Jr.
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Expect a nail-biter of a game that likely comes down to the final possession.