Hunter Dickinson scored 14 points and the top-seeded Wolverines took the inside route to the Elite Eight, pounding away in the paint Sunday for a 76-58 takedown of surprisingly helpless Florida State.
Franz Wagner had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines, who scored their first 30 points of the second half from close range to lead coach Juwan Howard and Co. to a victory in the only “chalk” meeting between a 1 and 4 seed of the second weekend.
Michigan (23-4) moved to a regional final for the first time since 2018. The Wolverines will play the winner of Sunday’s later UCLA-Alabama game.
Badly off target most of the night, Florida State didn’t eclipse the 20-point mark until M.J. Walker (10 points) hit a jumper with 27 seconds left in the first half.
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Other lowlights for the Seminoles:
— 14 turnovers, including 10 in the first half that led to 16 Michigan points.
— No 3-pointers over the first 24 minutes, and only 5 of 20 for the game; four of the makes came from Malik Osborne, who led the Seminoles with 12 points.
— Foul trouble for Walker, Anthony Polite and RaiQuan Gray. Adding to the trouble, Walker, the team’s leading scorer this season, rolled his ankle at the 14-minute mark of the second half. By the time he came back eight minutes later, the Seminoles (18-7) trailed by 19.
— The offense was held under 60 points for the first time this season, and it showed about as much fluidity as coach Leonard Hamilton, who limped around on the sideline in a walking boot; he ruptured his Achilles tendon while stepping off the bus last week.
Much of the credit for the Seminoles’ off night goes to Michigan. The Wolverines have big men in 7-foot-1 Dickinson and 6-9 Wagner, the likes of whom FSU hasn’t faced much, even as its long, athletic bunch took the program to their third straight Sweet 16.
Dickinson had eight rebounds and blocked two shots. He was a constant presence underneath, forcing Florida State, the team listed by analytics guru Kenpom as having the tallest average height in the nation, to twist and turn and bend and force shots up from inside the paint, where Michigan had a 50-28 advantage in points.
And from outside? The Seminoles were a total mess there, too. They won their first two March Madness games despite making a grand total of six 3-pointers. They’ll leave with 11, thanks mainly to Osborne, who was the only Seminole to make more than one in this blowout.
FSU went on a mini-tear when Osborne and Polite made back-to-back 3s to trim Michigan’s lead to five early in the second half.
But Michigan scored the next seven points during a stretch that also included Walker’s injury. The game never got that close again.
Driving the lane and making the extra pass underneath, the Wolverines made 11 of their first 13 shots in the second half. Seven of their 19 assists came from big men Dickinson (two) and Wagner (five).
The final 5 minutes were pretty much a Michigan party in the quarter-filled Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with the Wolverines fans shouting “Let’s Go Blue” as the clock ticked down.
They appear to be adjusting to life without injured guard Isaiah Livers — and becoming comfortable carrying the banner for the Big Ten, which brought nine teams to March Madness and now has only one.
A pretty good one, it turns out.