MI defeated Texas A&M on Thursday while FSU beat Gonzaga to get to tonight's Elite 8 matchup. Michigan's offense was by no means prolific, but on a night when they themselves shot 38.8 percent, that was more than enough to win with their defensive effort.
MI was up just 47-44 with 4:15 to play, but then led 54-44 with 2:20 remaining, before the Seminoles fought nearly all the way back, getting within 56-54 with 22 seconds left.
The Wolverines' ability to adapt and execute in whatever style of game emerges might be their best asset, and it bodes well for their chances at landing the second national title in program history. But then FSU's defense kicked in and MI didn't even break the 20-point barrier until Abdur-Rahkman buried a 3-pointer at the 5:40 mark to pull his team within 23-22 of the Seminoles. Just when it seemed MI would break free, on came the Seminoles with a 9-2 run to get within three at 40-37 on Phil Cofer's three-point play with 10 minutes left. Offensively, Michigan has been led by Moritz Wagner (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 0.9 spg), Charles Matthews (13.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.5 apg), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (12.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg), and Zavier Simpson (7.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg). In fact, he has been clutch all tournament. The former transfer also grabbed eight rebounds and two blocks. MI jumped to an early lead, but Florida State rallied back with a 10-3 surge to a two-point lead midway through the first half.
It was a worthwhile question, one broadcasters and fans were asking themselves as the final seconds melted away, and with them any hope of a miraculous Seminoles comeback. Florida State managed only two points in a 10?-minute stretch spanning halftime, and MI took a 10-point lead before Cofer led the Seminoles back into it.
With Michigan up by four, Florida State allowed the Wolverines to dribble out the clock without fouling again.
FSU tied it with five straight points, and it was 17-15 after two free throws following a questionable flagrant foul call on fifth-year senior Duncan Robinson. Then, a couple of FSU treys trimmed the lead to three points.
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"Do you think the game came down to the final seconds of the game?" he said.
MI went to the free-throw line 15 times in the first half, making 11, while FSU was 5-for-5.
Florida State guard Braian Angola, top right, shoots against MI forward Moritz Wagner, left, and guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman during the first half of an NCAA men's college basketball tournament regional final Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Los Angeles.
MI got through the South Regional to reach its first Final Four in five years and eighth time in program history. It's the second trip since 2013.
The Ramblers are the fourth 11 seed to advance to the Final Four, and the first since VCU in 2011. That game is set for next Saturday night.
One of those four teams will eventually play for the national championship in San Antonio.