Michigan nips Florida State to reach Final 4

MI had already missed four free throws in the last couple minutes and one miss could allow Florida State to tie.

There's going to be a ton of dissecting the upcoming matchup for next Saturday, But for now, it's time for the University of MI players and fans to celebrate a monumental achievement. So far, those futures bets are looking pretty good as they've now advanced to the Final Four.

■ The Ramblers average 72.0 points per game and limit opponents to 62.4. Ramblers' leading scorer Clayton Custer wasn't quite at his best offensively in Saturday's win, sinking 2 of 8 shots for seven points.

In a game that looked like the best versions of each school's football teams playing goal-line defense, the Seminoles (23-12) just could not quite close at the end as they so often have in recent weeks. The Wolverines were led by Charles Matthews, who scored 17 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Things were tight throughout the first half and at the start of the second half, but the Wolverines were able to pull away behind the play of talented guard Charles Matthews, who had 17 points and eight rebounds, and big man Mo Wagner, who had 12 points and six rebounds. The Wolverines, ranked No. 20 at the time, fell to fifth place in the Big Ten and, at 8-5, were a game behind Nebraska - a team they lost to by 20 a couple of weeks earlier.

Phil Cofer scored 16 for the Seminoles, who were on their longest NCAA Tournament run since 1993.

MI and Loyola-Chicago are set to tip off in San Antonio on Saturday night.

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.

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After a free throw by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Savoy's three-pointer with 1:16 closed it to 55-52.

Loyola-Chicago has been incredibly effective from the field in all four tournament games against four outstanding defensive teams, and they have had a different player step up in each game. Florida State had a lot more mismatches for Loyola-Chicago. The Wolverines just held the Seminoles to 54 points, and they are effective against the three which I expect to continue in this one.

MI has a 27-26 lead on Florida State at halftime of a tight West Region final.

Still, Michigan shot only 33 percent in the first half, compared with 43 percent for the Seminoles.

For much of the season, the Wolverines have leaned on their defense, which is one of the most efficient in the country. They were only required to bring five, but nobody gets left out on this team, including the walk-ons.

Loyola-Chicago could join the great underdog programs to make the Final Four in the past 10 years.

  • Tabitha Byrd