Michigan (29-7) vs. Florida (29-7)|
Sunday, March 31, 2:20 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cowboys Stadium (80,000) -- Arlington, Texas.
Television: CBS. NCAA Tournament Record: Michigan 46-22, Florida 38-15. Series
Record: Florida leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The South Regional final of the 2013 NCAA Tournament is set for
Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium, as the fourth-seeded Michigan Wolverines
take on the third-seeded Florida Gators.
The winner advances to the Final Four in Atlanta to take East Regional
Michigan's tournament started off with a pair of relatively easy bouts in the
second and third rounds, taking down South Dakota State (71-56) and VCU
(78-53), before facing off against the South Region's No. 1 seed in Kansas in
the Sweet 16 on Friday night. The Wolverines battled into overtime before
coming away with an 87-85 upset victory, and they are 29-7 on the season,
their best mark since the 1992-93 campaign, and they've advanced to the Elite
Eight for the first time since 1994.
Much like Michigan, Florida had an easy go of it in the opening rounds of the
tournament, as the team dismissed 14th-seeded Northwestern State (79-47) and
11th-seeded Minnesota (78-64) by double-digits. The Gators had to tangle with
the tournament's Cinderella story in 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the
Sweet 16 on Friday night, and while they were shaky early on, they eventually
finished with a 62-50 win to improve to 29-7 on the year and advance to the
regional finals for the third straight season, and for the fifth time in the
last eight years.
After these the 1988 matchup between these two teams was vacated by the NCAA,
there is just one official bout in the all-time series, with the Gators coming
away with a 79-63 win in December of 1998.
The Wolverines trailed Kansas for much of Friday's contest, including by 11
points with under four minutes to play, but they pulled off an improbable 17-6
run down the stretch, capped by a Trey Burke's long 3-pointer with five
seconds left in regulation to force overtime. In the extra session, Burke
drilled another long-range bucket less than a minute in to give his team the
lead for good. Burke was far from his best on the evening, shooting just 9-
of-21 from the field, but he still finished with 23 points and 10 assists.
Mitch McGray was spectacular in the paint with 25 points and 14 rebounds --
both career-highs. Glenn Robinson III chipped in with 13 points and eight
boards, while Nik Stauskas and Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 11 and 10 points,
Like it displayed against a stout Kansas squad, the Maize and Blue have been
rock solid at the offensive end of the court all season long, scoring greater
than 75 ppg, but they have also been strong on defense with just 63.1 ppg
allowed. Burke is the team's unquestioned leader, earning Big Ten Player of
the Year honors by averaging 18.9 ppg with impressive percentages from the
field (.469) and 3-point range (.386), while adding 6.8 apg and 1.6 spg to his
impressive stat line. Hardaway, Jr. is an outstanding scorer in his own right
with 14.8 ppg, Stauskas (11.3 ppg) has drained 73 3-pointers at a 42.9 percent
clip, and Robinson III brings 11.1 ppg and 5.6 rpg to the table. McGary's
season averages are rather modest (7.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg), but he has stepped up in
this tournament with 19.7 ppg and 12.3 rpg.
The Gators appeared in trouble in the Sweet 16 as they found themselves down
24-14 to upstart Florida Gulf Coast midway through the first half, but they
got their act together and closed the period on a 16-0 run to take a four-
point lead into the locker room at intermission. It was a lead they would
never relinquish. Although they were outshot by the Eagles, .455 to .386, they
won both the turnover (20-10) and rebounding (35-28) battles, and outscored
FCGU at the foul line, 14-6. Mike Rosario led the way with 15 points, Patric
Young had 13, and while Casey Prather chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Florida has a potent offensive attack, averaging 71.7 ppg on roughly 48
percent shooting from the field, but as it showed against FCGU, it has reached
elite status thanks mostly to its suffocating defense, which yields a mere
53.7 ppg on 38 percent field goal efficiency -- those last two figures ranking
in the top-five nationally. Instead of leaning on one superstar, the squad
relies on a balanced effort from its starting five, as Murphy, Rosario, Kenny
Boynton, Young and Wilbekin all net between 9.3 and 12.8 ppg, with Young (6.2
rpg, 1.5 bpg) and Wilbekin (4.9 apg, 1.4 spg) being named to the SEC's All-
Defensive Team as well. The Gators rely heavily on the 3-pointer, draining
more than eight treys per contest at nearly a 38 percent clip.
The key to this matchup will be whether or not Florida's suffocating defense
can stifle Michigan's fantastic guard play. The emergence of McGary in the
tournament has been invaluable for the Wolverines, giving them an inside
presence to anchor their impressive arsenal of shooters. The Maize and Blue
proved it can beat top-flight talent even when they aren't at their best in
their win over Kansas, and if Burke can return to form in this one, a trip to
the Final Four could be in the cards.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 67, Florida 65
03/31 10:30:53 ET