NCAA Tournament: Michigan vs. Florida Recap

Dylan Burkhardt


MICH 79 1.10 30-65 46% 20-46 43% 10-19 53% 9-13 69% 9 26 18 11 13 5 13
UF 59 .82 23-56 41% 21-46 46% 2-10 20% 11-17 65% 9 27 13 15 7 3 11

Sometimes everything just comes together when you least expect it.

Michigan’s season will continue as the Wolverines are headed to Atlanta for their first Final Four in 20 years.

It would have sounded in crazy in late February, on Selection Sunday or with three minutes to play on Friday evening but you have to give this Michigan team credit. They always believed.

There were many times that Michigan looked the part of a Final Four team. The Wolverines cruised through the non-conference season and beat plenty of really good teams this season, playing a handful of others to the wire. But it was impossible to shake the heartbreak in Madison, embarrassment in East Lansing or devastation in State College from any opinion of this Michigan team. The Wolverines fell from likely No. 1 seed to a forgotten No. 4 seed and a trip to the Final Four was the last thing on anyone’s mind outside of the Michigan locker room.

But the Wolverines never looked anymore like a Final Four team than they did on Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium. Michigan outscored Florida 41-17 to start the game, playing its best half of basketball this season, and never looked back en route to a 20-point victory.


Michigan’s offensive numbers for the game are very good but they don’t do the Wolverines’ first half performance justice. Michigan scored 47 points on 36 first half possessions; a whopping 1.31 points per trip against the supposed second best defense in the country. It was an offensive clinic. Michigan had eight fast break points, eight second chance points, hit 7-of-11 threes and rebounded 39 percent of its misses. Just about everything that John Beilein drew up seemed to work including a masterful sideline out of bounds play in the closing seconds of the half. The Wolverine offense was so effective that the second half was a mere formality.

The three point shot catalyzed Michigan’s offense, Michigan shot just 43% inside the arc and 10-of-19 (53%) outside, put Michigan also feasted off of turnovers and fast break opportunities. The Wolverines outscored the Gators 16-7 in points off of turnovers and 21-4 in fast break points. From the opening tip off the game was played at a fast pace; something Michigan dictated.  This was as fast or faster as any game that either team played all season at 72 possessions and, including this result, Michigan is 7-2 in games played at 68 possessions or more while Florida is just 2-3.

The Wolverines also blanketed Florida defensively – in both halves. The Gators mustered just .82 points per possession for the game and never looked in sync. Michigan dominated the defensive glass, forced Gator turnovers and held Florida to 46% shooting inside the arc and 20% outside the arc for a 43% effective field goal percentage. The key for Michigan defensively was eliminating the three point shot; Florida only attempted 10 threes for the game and made just two of them. When the Gators did drive, Michigan was physical enough at the basket to contest regularly.

On this night, there was no competition. Michigan was the better team from the coach’s stool on the sideline to the last spot on the bench. From Trey Burke to Spike Albrecht, Michigan dominated the game and will head to Atlanta playing its best basketball of the season.

Michigan will play in the late game Saturday evening at the Final Four with tip off scheduled for 8:49 p.m. at the Georgia Dome (CBS). Syracuse has stifled its opponents throughout the tournament, surrendering just 183 points in 253 tournament possessions, or .73 points per trip.

But let this one sink in, Michigan is going to the Final Four.


Player Bullets:

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas snapped out of his cold streak with a 6-for-6 day from three point range but it all started with a beautiful fast break pass to open play. Stauskas was brimming with confidence and simply didn’t miss. Stauskas, like Michigan, picked an ideal time to have his best shooting night of the season.
  • Trey Burke: Burke is the best player in the country and he ran Michigan’s offense to perfection in the first half. He hit a few hiccups in the second half but he looked to be in noticeable back pain and was recovering from a stomach flu bug that affected him against Kansas. Burke finished with 15 points on 5-of-16 (1-5 3pt) shooting, but his 7-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, three steals and eight rebounds should tell you everything you need to know about how important he is to this team.
  • Mitch McGary: Once again, McGary set the tone out of the gate. His physical presence around the rim was evident from the opening tip and he racked up eight points and six rebounds before the first TV timeout. McGary actually struggled a bit out of the gate in the second half but then after a quick break he checked back in caught the ball at the top of the key and put it on the floor with his right hand, powering through a Florida defender for a layup.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.:  Hardaway was the only Michigan player that truly had a bad game. He started 2-of-11 from the field, finishing 3-of-13. However, I give Hardaway some credit because when he got pulled after taking a handful of bad shots, he checked back in and made plays: a dunk in transition, then a strong defensive rebound before pushing the break on his own and finding Horford for a dunk. Hardaway had a rough weekend in Dallas but Michigan will need him against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, he’s the most natural fit to play in the middle.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson had a quiet night, scoring six points on 3-of-7 shooting with two blocks, a steal and two rebounds, but he set the tone from the opening tip. Florida went to Erik Murphy twice on the low block isolated on Robinson and he forced misses on both shots. Murphy would finish 0-of-11 and Robinson’s day was ear marked by a couple massive alley oops.
  • Spike Albrecht: The 5-foot-10 guard from Crown Point that no one wanted out of prep school played a critical role in Michigan’s Final Four run. Albrecht exceeded even the wildest of expectations this season and Sunday’s game was just the feather in his cap. He hit a three, scored in transition and had a highlight steal on an inbound play after a Mitch McGary layup.
  • Jon Horford: Going down the box score, seemingly everyone contributed for Michigan and Horford is no exception. He finished with six points (3-3 fg) and four rebounds in eight minutes of play. McGary has drawn all of the headlines but Horford has quietly had a very productive tournament for Michigan off the bench.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan played just six minutes but continued to play hard, grabbing five rebounds while he was on the floor and serving as Michigan’s glue guy defensively when Robinson and McGary needed breathers.
  • Caris LeVertLeVert continues to struggle offensively, missing his only driving attempt and turning the ball over once, but he made up for his turnover with a highlight chase down block.

    Awesome game, so proud of our team! GO BLUE!!!!!!

  • JDR

    Say what you will about how amazing it is to see a Michigan team in the Final Four–it’s all true. For me, though, the greatest joy of this season will be having seen these kids grow up. I was too young to appreciate that aspect of college basketball in the early 90s but now I really get it. We saw how good they could be against Iowa and Northwestern early in the season (and to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever been happier watching a sporting event than I was watching that Iowa game and thinking to myself “holy crap, this is SUCH a TEAM”), but that just made the late season hiccups worse. They grew up, the big ten season toughened them, and now you have Robinson playing solid post defense, McGary finishing with his off hand, Albrecht throwing totally audacious half-court bounce passes, Levert gutting out a block to make up for an error, and Stauskas settling down and developing confidence in himself. Everybody’s improved and developed, and those are things you just can’t get in pro sports. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I allow myself to get frustrated when they’re not clicking, but when they are, oh man, the elation is just fantastic.

  • Matzio

    I am so unbelievably proud of this team and the Michigan program as a whole. It’s been a long way back but these guys have done it the right way. I knew this year’s team could be something special something special once Trey didn’t declare from the draft. There were ups and downs but they have played out of their minds in March and do not look to have any intent on stopping. As a Michigan fan it’s so excited to see this team where they are. And I don’t think anybody is ready to go home quite yet.

  • Team arriving back in Ann Arbor like rock stars

    • Another good shot

    • Adam St Patrick

      Ooof — I would have loved to have gone and added to the noise. Dylan, if there are any public events like that this week — rally, send-off, etc — it would be great to know where we can see a schedule or if you could post a heads-up on the blog. Thanks much!

  • MGoTweeter

    So proud of this team and even more so just happy for these players and coach Beilein. We have all witnessed how great they are on the basketball court when they are playing well, but I truly believe there is not a finer set of people in college basketball.

    I have certainly been critical of the team over the season, some of it deserved, some of it my crazy fandom, and often asserted that this team lacked that a-hole factor to be a great team. These kids showed on friday night that you don’t need to be chippy, dirty, or mean, to be tough and win big games. This team has a tremendous amount of talent and these guys all put egos aside, encouraged and supported each other, to accomplish a common goal. Today we saw again how great this collection of players is and how special a true team can be.

    Having met coach Beilein I know how nice and sincere of a man he is, but anyone who has ever heard him talk or watched him coached knows that as well. To see how humble he was after the game and in the post game press conference is so refreshing compared to many of his colleagues. We all know how much he deserved this kind of accomplishment, but to him it is just another opportunity to teach his players for one more week not just about basketball but also life.

    • ChathaM

      It’s great to see how genuinely happy the players appear to be for each other when they make a big play, etc. That’s probably a reflection on Beilein, who seems far happier for everyone involved in the program than he is for himself. It’s a powerful dynamic to have going for you, and we’re so lucky to have a coach that creates that dynamic just by being himself.

  • ChathaM

    This game reminded me a lot of most of the November/December/early January games; tons of transition opportunities, and confidence to match. Those that said that getting into the Tourney and away from the Big Ten grind would be good for this team were absolutely right. A more free flowing game suits this team so well. During this 4 game run, I’ve noted several fouls where I thought “that never would have been called in a Big Ten game”. I also haven’t noticed many, if any, of the usual Big Ten officials advancing far into the NCAA Tourney. Maybe that’s just me searching for things, though; does anyone agree?

    I didn’t see much of Florida during the season, but despite their reputation, they simply didn’t look like they had the ability to guard UM. Switching from man to zone seemed to be successful for a while (although UM still got good shots; they just missed a few in a row), but that wasn’t the solution, either. McGary made a comment about Florida’s players looking “lifeless”, so maybe they just weren’t themselves today.

    I agree with Dylan that the perimeter defence was excellent. Florida obviously had no intention of shooting a lot of 3’s today. But, even in the 2nd half, when UF started to look for more 3’s, their shooters were covered, and most shots were contested. That was the kind of perimeter defence that UM started to show late in the season in the Purdue and IU games (which seem SO long ago), but that faded a bit until today. I thought that UF guards got into the paint pretty easily for a while in the 2nd half, but that was the only defensive blemish. In any event, when the perimeter guys are defending well, along with the vast defensive improvements from McGary and Robinson, this team is really scary.

    My pre-Tourney hope was for UM to win one game, with anything more being gravy, as they’d be playing similarly talented teams, with the games potentially going either way. I think what the Big Ten covered up, though, is that UM is an extremely talented group; clearly more talented than 3 of its 4 Tourney opponents. That was easy for forget. Looking ahead, I’ve thought all season that you cannot effectively play zone against UM, because of all the perimeter weapons at their disposal. Hardaway and Robinson can be effective flashing to the FT line and making jumpers, due to their size. I believe Syracuse is a very favourable matchup for UM, and I can’t wait to watch Saturday’s game.

    • Northern Blue

      I agree with your first paragraph. The big ten officials let this league maul eachother all year long. I hate Wisconsin because they really weren’t that good of a team, they just knew how to take advantage of big ten officiating and I really don’t respect the way they play and there is a reason why they weren’t great in the non conference and in the tourny. I also think with McGary, Michigan is a much better running team. He creates turnovers, he rebounds and quickly outlets, and runs the floor himself. What you saw at the start of the year and now is that Michigan in a properly officiated game can explode for offensive bursts and you really can’t contain their skill game. It is like lightning in a bottle. Also, not playing teams that want to slow the tempo down to a snails pace to take away their skill is another thing that has helped Michigan out. Syracuse and Louisville are going to be very tough, especially Louisville if Michigan makes it to the finals. They play better defence than Michigan and can score inside and out.

      • mikey_mac

        I make the same point about UW. I would really love some way of generating evidence for this other than looking at UW’s frequent early check-outs in the NCAA tourney. Until then, I have a hard time completely buying into the theory. Is there a way to compare foul % (fouls per possession), and compare UW games, B1G conf games, all NCAA games, and tournament games?

  • gpsimms

    Results like this are a wet dream from kenpom’s computers. We’ve jumped from 8 or 9 to 5 because of this game and are now the (slight) favorite over Syracuse.

    • Chris in NC

      That’s not good. Kenpom has been wrong so much this tournament I’d rather see us the underdog…

      • gpsimms

        I’m sure you don’t really believe that our chances of winning the game are at all affected by where kenpom has us ranked. They are predictive, but they do not make a team better or worse.

        I’m sure you also realize when kenpom predicts a team has only a 20% chance to win, and then the team wins, he’s not “wrong”, right?

        Honestly, I was only making a joke about how uber-efficient beatdowns of good teams really make a difference in his rankings. (Remember the huge jump we made in his ranking when we slaughtered Tennessee in tournament?)

        • Kenny

          I am sure that Chris did not draw his concluding on one upset, but from its prediction on all games in this tournament. The rating has its flaws, which is the gross underestimation of the variability of the game, and neglect of the match-up advantage/disadvantages, resulting ridiculous ranking jumps/drops from results of one single game.

          • gpsimms

            The cute thing about people who hate on Kenpom is that they are the ones who take it as Truth: “Kenpom is dumb, his system makes mistakes, etc.”

            The people who love kenpom know exactly what it is. They don’t treat its predictions as law, and they aren’t surprised when something happens other than what the model predicts is the most likely outcome.

            In fact, although kenpom’s score prediction doesn’t have matchup information in it, his stat pages have ALL the matchup information you could possibly want. Going in to the VCU game, when people said “Well, the good thing about the VCU matchup is they only play good defense when they turn you over,” where do you thick they got that info from?

            Kenpom’s VCU gameplan page shows that opponent’s TO% has the highest correlation to winning of all the 8 offensive/defensive four factors.

            The guy is a genius, and his page is an amazing tool for those smart enough to understand.

      • ChathaM

        For fun, I used the final regular season “rankings” to choose my brackets for the tourney. I’m not leading the pool, but I’m in 3rd place out of a couple dozen entries. Not bad.

  • A2JD

    Most of us thought this team had the potential to have a special year but it’s so great to see them go out and do it.


  • jemblue

    Very strange that UF attempted only 10 threes, given how much they trailed all game. There were some times when I thought they had a look and they passed it up to go inside (often with poor results). Good for us though.

    • rlcBlue

      This season, for each two the Gators attempted, they shot .395 threes. That was the 40th highest ratio in the country (by way of comparison, Michigan was 153rd in the nation at .338 threes attempted per two).

      Today, Florida shot .217 threes for each two attempted – in a game where they trailed by double digits for the last 37 minutes of the game! Incredible. Was it our defense? I’ll have to watch the replay.

      • it was weird at the end, the last 5-8 minutes it didn’t seem like they tried to pressure or take any threes when they had no chance to comeback without those 2 things. Seemed like they just gave up

    • robpollard

      There was some good analysis of this on the CBS halftime show. I think it was Gottleib, but whoever, he pointed out that on 1-day’s rest Donovan likely called other coaches for quick advice, and the “book” from other coaches on beating Michigan is to attack inside, specifically the power forward. That may be true, but Florida bigs are much better at cleaning up offensive rebounds, not on making their own initial shot. So Florida got sucked into a game plan that didn’t fit their offense.

      By the time they changed it up, Michigan’s scorching hot start to get to a 20-pt lead made any adjustments almost a moot point.

      If you watched the Florida-FGCU game, Florida similarly got off to a rough start (thought not as bad; FGCU got off to a ~12 point lead against Florida). Donovan adjusted (basically, pushing for turnovers and working the offensive glass) and b/c FGCU is turnover prone and not as talented as Florida, it worked. When Donovan adjusted against Michigan (obviously a better team than FGCU) he didn’t have the “create turnovers” option against the ball-handling of UM’s guards.

  • JeremyS

    That beginning of the write-up was outstanding and sums everything up perfectly. There is no way to explain this turn-around and Michigan is playing outstanding. I never saw it coming. Congrats to the Wolverines.

  • mmmmFAZpizza

    Wow this rocks!

    Can’t wait to see how we approach Syracuse’s defense.

    And a potential game against Louisville would be an epic title fight!

    Life is good :)

  • Chazer

    Truly a masterpiece of work by these fine young men. Congratulations to JB and his staff for building a team of athletes and getting them better as the year progressed. A fine example of JB and his talent as a leader and coach! I am so happy that he recruited young men with charachter and the desire to improve. They took no short cuts and paid their dues for success. Congratulations to the kids for staying together and supporting each other….what a great team!

    As for Syracuse, JB has never beat them, but he never had the athletes he has at UM. There are holes in the SU zone but you have to hit the shots….Indiana could not. I think UM can beat them but they have to play D….this should be a great game. If they can run they can win.

    Seriuosly the committee missed the mark with seeding this year. I know you have upsets….but no way Gonzaga was a one seed.

    Go Blue…..great year and another week of scanning UMHOOPS!!
    Thanks Dylan and your staff for the content…..freaking awesome job!

  • Wilt

    The more I see of the M team today the less validity I see in any comparisons people try to make between them and the Fab Five of the early 90s. I had lower-bowl seats in Crisler during the entire Fab Five era. Unlike most of today’s team, Weber, Howard, Rose, King, and Jackson were all blue-chip, highly regarded, very highly recruited high school stars — especially Weber, Howard, and Rose. In February of 1992 Fisher stared all five for the first time, and the starting five basically remained that way for the remainder of the 91-92 season and through the 92-93 season. Today’s team now starts three freshman but began the season starting only one. Stauskas got his starting job after the season began and McGary just got his as the tournament began. The two staring guards have always been a sophomore and a junior.

    And my impression when watching the Fabs play was that they — especially Weber, Howard, and Rose — each played his individual game but that they all somehow meshed together. They didn’t seem to play in a tight, recognizable system they way the team does today. Yes, the Fabs had a coach, but I often wondered how much coaching Fisher actually did. I got the impression — and I could be entirely wrong — that they, especially Weber and Rose, pretty much coached themselves. Not so today — Beilein’s system is the result of thoughtful, evolutionary change, and knowing his system well enough to know whom to recruit to fit into it.

    I see little comparison between the Fab Five and the current players in the Michigan BB program.

    • rlcBlue

      Fisher (and staff) did teach the Fab 5 how to play defense at a collegiate level – and, significantly for recruiting purposes, the scheme taught was a pro style. Dig out the old tapes and watch them double-team the post – they were very, very good at it.
      The coaches may have taught them something about offense, but I could never figure out what the hell it was. It drove me crazy to see them make the same mistakes in game 70 that they did in game 10.

  • mikey_mac

    I can’t recall seeing a team suck the life out of another team like this before … The 13-0 start had UF on their heels, and they were dunzo after having to bail on their emergency 2-3 zone.
    UF’s refusal to stretch the defense with some perimeter shooting really shot themselves in the foot. UM was able to shrink their guarding area to basically just the paint, and their rebounding and thus transition game really benefited from that.