Michigan will head to San Antonio to play in the Final Four.
Charles Matthews scored 17 points as the Wolverines defeated Florida State 58-54 Saturday in the West Regional final of the 2018 NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles.
Matthews, Zavier Simpson and Duncan Robinson opened Michigan’s 3-point lead to 10 with less than 3 minutes left in the game to put Michigan back in the Final Four for the first time since 2013. With 1:16 left, PJ Savoy hit a 3-pointer to cut Michigan’s lead to 55-52, and after Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Savoy missed a 3-point attempt with 56 seconds left. Then, Florida State cut the lead again to 2, and Robinson’s free throws with 20.9 seconds left helped the Wolverines secure the win.
WHY MICHIGAN WON: Michigan came on strong in the final minutes, particularly on its free-throw shooting, after struggling to sink baskets through a large part of the game. Michigan countered Florida State’s inside presence early. In particular, it got 7-foot-4 forward Christ Koumadje into early foul trouble. Koumadje was called for his second foul in the first 3 minutes, and Florida State had to turn to its bench as the Wolverines opened up a 10-4 lead in the first 5 minutes.
With Moritz Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman quiet on offense, Matthews stepped in to lead the Wolverines with 10 points in the first half. However, Florida State took advantage of a flagrant foul called against Robinson about 9½ minutes into the game. and went on a 7-0 run to take a 17-15 lead 10 minutes into the game.
Michigan took a 27-26 lead at halftime, despite making only 1 shot from the floor in the final 8 minutes of the first half. The Wolverines stretched their lead to as many as 10 points, part of an 11-0 run that bridged the first and second halves, and held off the Seminoles, who cut the lead to 3 with less than 5 minutes left in the second half.
WHAT IT MEANS: Michigan advances to the Final Four for the first time since 2013. Michigan extends its win streak to 13 games, a run that dates to Feb. 11.
WHO STARRED: Matthews kicked off the game early with a thundering dunk and paced the Wolverines with 17 points, including 10 in the first half.
WHO STUMBLED: Michigan’s 3-point shooting was subpar against the Seminoles, finishing 4 for 22 (18.2 percent).
Abdur-Rahkman and Wagner in the first half. Wagner provided a physical presence, but scored only 5 points in the first half. Abdur-Rahkman finished with 9 points but scored only 6 in the first half. The Wolverines also found themselves in two lengthy scoring droughts in the first half, and couldn’t match Florida State on the boards. The Seminoles outrebounded the Wolverines 15-11 in the first half and 36-34 in the game.
WHAT’S NEXT: Michigan will face Loyola-Chicago on Saturday in an NCAA Tournament Final Four semifinal game in San Antonio.