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Michigan Crushes Texas A&M 99-72 to Advance to Elite Eight

26 March, 2018, 01:05 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Texas A&M's Duane Wilson dribbles by West Virginia defenders at the 2017 ESPN Armed Forces Classic

Here's three things MI needs to do to reach the Final Four. Furthermore, the Wolverines are the better defensive team in this matchup, plus Florida State has been out-rebounded in all three tournament games. They rank 3 in the nation in defensive efficiency after never finishing higher than 37 previously.

-Beilein has been a very good tournament coach.

MI is enjoying its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the past six years and is one of seven schools to have four Sweet 16 appearances since 2013, joining Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

MI is 2-6 ATS in its past eight games against the ACC. The ACC downs the Big Ten in the Elite 8. After reaching the NCAA Tournament's round of 16 with an improbable buzzer-beater, MI shot 62 percent from the floor and routed Texas A&M 99-72 in the West Region semifinals on Thursday night to reach the Elite Eight for the third time in six years. He's leading the Wolverines with 16.3 PPG and 7 RPG in the NCAA Tournament.

MI shot a blazing 62 percent from the floor, made 14 of 24 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over just six times against what was supposedly a good Aggies defense.

-Michigan's stars showed up at the right time. Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored a team-high 24 points for the Wolverines while going 4 for 7 from beyond the arc. MI is a 4.5-point favorite over Florida State and would be expected to beat whichever team it might face in the semifinals in San Antonio.

Florida State ranks 14th in blocks per game (5.3) while MI ranks 154th (3.1).

TJ Starks, averaging 9.7 points per game this season, led the Aggies with 21 points against North Carolina. After beating Montana on Thursday the Wolverines threw a "Poole party" on Saturday against Houston, using freshman Jordan Poole's desperation 3-pointer to secure a 64-63 victory at the buzzer.

Another player to watch for MI is Charles Matthews, a 6-6 junior guard.

"We're doing some things that (are uncharacteristic), we've got to address them and get better at them", MI coach John Beilein said after Saturday's win. Florida State lost in the ACC tournament to Louisville, and were unsure they would even make the big dance at 20-1.

John Beilein's been here before, of course, During the 2014 NCAA tournament run MI found itself up against a Texas club that featured 6-9, 285-pound Cameron Ridley and 6-9, 242-pound Jonathan Holmes. Throughout his three decades of experience as a collegiate head coach - with one year at the helm of the Washington Wizards in the middle - he's been at three places that would traditionally fit that bill: Oklahoma State, Miami and, for the past 16 seasons, at Florida State. "You've got to let young people play through their mistakes and get that experience and hopefully they won't make it the second time around".

When the Wolverines weren't drowning the Aggies in 14-for-24 deep shooting, they were making moves that would have snapped a break dancer's ankles.

-Florida State is a team that likes to play fast on offense.

After missing its first shot of the game, MI connected on four-straight - which included a bank shot from Wagner that was preceded by a behind-the-back dribble move - to claim an early 9-2 lead. The 'Noles aren't great in stopping transition either, ranking 281 in transition defense. On a one-day turnaround, that could play a factor late in games. They rank in the top 10 in the country, forcing almost 10 turnovers per game.

The Seminoles' average margin of victory in their last five games has been 6.8, down from 7.6 for the season.

MI thumped Texas A&M on Thursday night, putting together an incredible shooting performance that saw the Wolverines shoot 62% from the field and 58% from three.

Does either team have an advantage in this game? "Outside of 6'1" guard CJ Walker, their other four starters are at least 6'6", including their 7'4" center. Yet another guard, sophomore Zavier Simpson, had 11 points, five assists and six of the Wolverines' 12 steals. The Wolverines are excellent on that side of the ball and it'll show tonight.

Ninth-seeded Kansas State stunned fifth-seeded Kentucky right from the opening tip Thursday night, building a 13-1 lead before most of the blue-clad crowd at Philips Arena in Atlanta knew what hit them. It also helps that they take decent care of the ball as well, turning it over fewer than 18% of their possessions.


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