Upsets and underdogs have ruled March Madness heading into the Sweet 16, but the battle between the Florida State Seminoles and Michigan Wolverines is just like it was drawn up when the seeds were first handed out on Selection Sunday.
Florida State Seminoles vs. Michigan Wolverines
at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Of the eight games in the Sweet 16, this is the only one coming off as projected by the seeding with Michigan the No. 1 in the East and Florida State No. 4. In fact, the top half of the East Region has run perfectly according to seeding. The Wolverines appear to have corrected some of their late-season woes when they dropped three of their last five, and have taken care of business against the No. 16 and No. 8 seeds of the East. Likewise, the Seminoles lost three of their final five games before the tourney, and have dispatched the No. 13 and No. 5 seeds to reach the East Region semifinals.
‘Under’ Cashes in FSU’s 2 Tourney Tilts
We should have the A-team for CBS behind the mics for this afternoon broadcast, Jim Nantz reminding us several times about the Masters being a “tradition like not other” while Bill Raftery punctuates his color commentary as if he was rehearsing for Shakespeare’s Othello. Michigan is giving up 2½ at Bet365 where the total is 143½.
Leonard Hamilton has the Seminoles looking like a team determined to make up for not having a shot at the program’s first NCAA Championship a year ago as a likely No. 1 seed. This marks the third consecutive Big Dance for Florida State to reach the Sweet 16, and the Seminoles will be seeking just their fourth Elite Eight appearance.
Florida State just missed covering the NCAAB lines in a first-round win over UNC Greensboro, the 64-54 final missing the -10½ spread by a half. They got a little lazy and sloppy letting a 16-point lead in the first half get away, and had to fend off a late challenge from the Spartans to advance. Florida State then found itself in a tight, defensive battle into the middle of the second half against Colorado, but gained control at that point for the 71-53 final. The Seminoles shot better than 52% in each contest.
Maize & Blue Go ‘Over’ in First 2 NCAA Contests
Juwan Howard and the Wolverines seemed ripe for an upset with Isaiah Rivers out, but players
like Mike Smith and Eli Brooks have stepped up to put them in position to reach the Final Four. Not bad for a team that was ranked 25th in the preseason AP poll, and not even included in the coaches top 25. This is third fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, and 17th overall.
Michigan split covers at online bookmakers in the first two rounds, coming up short as 24½-point chalk in an 82-66 win against Texas Southern and then doubling-up a -4 spread in Monday’s 86-78 final against LSU. Smith led the way with 18 in the decision against the TSU Tigers, tying a season-high, while Brooks tallied a season-high 21 against the LSU Tigers. The Wolverines have also come through when at the charity stripe, sinking 41 of their 51 free throws (80.3%).
Sunday’s Skirmish the 4th Postseason Tourney Meeting Florida State and Michigan have collided four times in the last quarter century, and three of those matchups took place in postseason tournaments. The first was in the 1997 NIT Championship Game, the Wolverines prevailing by an 82-73 count. Michigan was later forced to vacate the title due to Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock being declared ineligible. The Seminoles hosted the Wolverines 10 years later in the 2nd-round of the 2007 NIT, and romped past Michigan in an 87-66 rout.
Their most recent clash was in the West Region Finals of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at LA’s Staples Center where the Wolverines came away with a 58-54 decision. Michigan was favored by 4 to push the spread, and the defensive struggle never approached a 143-point total. The only other meeting was an 82-80 Wolverines triumph at the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Both sides have run contrary at the dance to their regular season totals trends, which has me shying away from a free NCAAB pick there. The Seminoles were my pick to win the East Region when the tournament began, so I’ll stick with my initial projection and take the points.
NCAAB Pick: Florida State +2½ (-110) at Bet365