There wasn’t a throng of fans to greet the Michigan basketball team when it returned to Ann Arbor on Sunday but the Wolverines came home with the NCAA Tournament West Regional championship trophy and a Final Four berth in hand.
Michigan beat Florida State 58-54 Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles to earn its first trip to the national semifinals since 2013. Redshirt sophomore guard Charles Matthews scored 17 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional tournament, while sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson was the catalyst of a defense that limited Florida State to 7-of-30 shooting in the second half. Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and junior forward Moe Wagner were also named to the all-region team.
The Wolverines will play Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four on Saturday in San Antonio. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6:09 p.m. ET.
There was no planned celebration for the return home but a few fans and media were at Crisler Center as the team bus made its way to the arena.
“They’re going to the Final Four and it’s a big deal,” said Mick Yuille, a Maize Rage member and 2015 Michigan graduate. “I want to show them that they have the support of the community and the alumni base as they got in the Staples Center, and Madison Square Garden and in Wichita.”
Yuille was at Crisler Center along with 2014 Michigan grad Bob MacDermaid.
“I’m just still speechless about what happened the past couple of weeks,” MacDermaid said. “I’m just glad to be here and I want to show them my support just because of all they’ve done this year and how happy it’s made me to be a fan and an alum.”
Several coaches and team officials, including coach John Beilein, went straight home from the airport. Preparation for Loyola, a No. 11 seed that beat No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada and No. 9 Kansas State to win the South Regional, will begin Monday.
Beilein told Land of 10 that he was proud of the toughness the team showed against Florida State. Michigan shot just 38.8 percent (19 of 49) from the field, including making just 4 of the 22 3-point attempts it took but the defense played well throughout the game. It forced 15 turnovers by the Seminoles.
Michigan reached the national title game in 2013 the last time it went to the Final Four. Beilein said despite all the hype and excitement that will surround the team this week, it will be key to focus on Loyola being the next game the same way it did approaching games against Montana, Houston, Texas A&M and Florida State to get to this point.