Elite 8 Pick
Michigan is likely licking its chops with how the bracket has broken down. The Wolverines get a 9-seed in the Elite 8 and then either another 9-seed or 11-seed in the Final 4. After hitting a buzzer beater against Houston, everything has gone perfectly for them. For this one, they opened as -4.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Los Angeles.
While Michigan is the favorite, Florida State has arguably had a more impressive run. The Seminoles had no problems with Missouri, came back against 1-seed Xavier and then led Gonzaga for almost the entire way on Thursday. This team didn’t really look elite at any point in the regular season, yet here they are in a spot to reach the Final 4.
As for the Wolverines, they didn’t show much in the win over Montana, needed a buzzer beater against Houston and then rolled Texas A&M off the cOurt in the Sweet 16. If they can hit shots like in the A&M Game, it’s hard to see Michigan losing.
The big thing for the Seminoles is that they a lot of depth to use to limit the Michigan attack. In all, they have 10 guys that have played relevant minutes in the NCAA Tournament. against three-point shooting big man Moritz Wagner, FSU could go smaller with Phil Cofer or roll big with Mfiondu Kabengele, Ike Obiagu or Christ Koumadje. And when Koumadje is in the Game, it’s doubtful Wagner will be able to defend the 7-foot-4 big man.
At the Four spot, Cofer, who averages the most minutes per Game for FSU (29.2) will be a great matchup for Duncan Robinson and Isaiah Livers. It’s the same situation in the backcOurt where the Seminoles have five or even six different guys to use. CJ Walker is the smallest of the bunch, while Trent Forrest has been huge in the Tournament and PJ Savoy has hit some big shots. That doesn’t include the most experienced of the bunch in Terance Mann and Braian Angola, both of whom showed up against Gonzaga.
Similar to their previous wins, the Seminoles will focus on using defense to steal this Game. Their size and athleticism will be difficult for Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman in the backcOurt, while Charles Matthews has been inconsistent offensively most of the season. But if Michigan comes out and hits 10 threes in the first half like it did against A&M, all bets are off.
This matchup could end up being similar to the Houston Game for Michigan, especially if the shots don’t fall. The Wolverines have the third-most efficient defense in the country and that’s how they’ll win this Game. Florida State has scored 75 points the last few Games, but this isn’t an overwhelming bunch offensively. When faced with good defenses, this team has struggled, namely scoring 63 points against Clemson less than a month ago. The Seminoles haven’t played a defense as efficient as Michigan’s since that Game against Clemson.
Michigan is the clear favorite, but if the shots aren’t falling this will be anyone’s Game. The Seminoles will have a slight advantage with depth and that could work out nicely to show different guys against Wagner, but not all of them can defend on the perimeter, which is needed. And when Florida State goes to its extended zone, that’s something that didn’t work for Texas A&M against this Michigan offense. Both teams are good defensively, but Michigan’s potential on offense is hard to pass up.
Our Pick – Michigan -4.5