Florida State loses to MI, falls short of Final Four

The Wolverines hadn't caused much disturbance to those nets at Staples Center during the West Region final.

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton might be the only person in the world who thinks his team did not need to foul in the final seconds of Saturday's 58-54 loss to MI in the Elite Eight. Said Seminoles HC Willie Taggart, "Had a little knee injury, a little meniscus, I think it's a tear on the side there". If not for 14 turnovers in the first half, the Seminoles might have forged a lead of more than 4 points, their high for the night.

After the game, CBS sideline reporter Dana Jacobson asked Hamilton a perfectly legitimate question: "In the final seconds of this game, why didn't you guys foul?"

For the first time since 2013, the Michigan Wolverines are heading to the Final Four. He did manage five free throws, the last two restoring Michigan's lead, 27-26, entering the break. The Seminoles would not score again in the half.

FSU kept hitting shots to make it a two-point game, but was forced to foul MI to stop the clock and put them at the line.

ANN ARBOR WEST: Florida State has plenty of fans in Southern California, but MI had a truly impressive crowd in the Staples stands for the victory over Texas A&M.

In a moment emblematic of the Seminoles' offensive attack, senior guard Braian Angola posted up a smaller MI defender, backed him down and put up a right-handed hook shot from three feet that didn't even hit the rim.

Florida State (23-12) had managed to upset fourth-seeded Gonzaga on Thursday by overwhelming the Bulldogs - who, like MI, rely on precision and execution over raw athleticism - with a frenetic defensive effort and a deep rotation of nine to 11 players.

Hamilton dismissed questions about the decision not to foul while down four. But wins against top-seeded Xavier and heavily-favored Gonzaga has given Florida State reason to believe. The Seminoles are one of the best offensive teams in the country, so that's a game they would expect to win.

Florida State went more than eight minutes without a bucket Saturday night and it took grit to claw back into the contest.

Coach Leonard Hamilton's surprising Seminoles are trying to reach just the second Final Four in their school's history.

He received a $200,000 bonus when the Seminoles made the 68-team field and an additional $50,000 for consecutive appearances. Here are three takeaways from its run to the national semifinals.

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■ Notes: FSU ranks 14th nationally in blocks per game (5.3) and 36th in scoring offense (81).

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.

As it turned out, neither team shot well, and both played strong defense.

DOGS IN THEM: Michigan is aware of the dilemma it faces Saturday with Florida State's pressing, shot-blocking "junkyard defense", which has deserved its colorful name.

Loyola will play in its first Final Four since 1963, when the Ramblers won their only championship.

But this isn't any ordinary 11 seed. Louisiana State (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011) also were No. 11 seeds. He added a team-leading eight rebounds.

Loyola, looking to extend its 13-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation, has answered every challenge from the Wildcats. And suddenly the Wolverines were ahead 38-28.

When NCAA tournament last came to town in 2012, the banners were replaced by ones noting past college basketball champions. Moe Wagner, who attempted just three shots in the first half, got going in the second, scoring seven of his 12 points after the break including back-to-back scores midway through the second half as MI started to pull away with 7:46 to go. At that point, it was November and what we thought was a bad to below-average MI team taking a blowout at the hands of a meh North Carolina team ended up being.something else.

Full disclosure - I've really liked this MI team nearly all year, since the moment I saw them in Chapel Hill.

The fact of the matter is - America needs Sister Jean right now.

Time heals all wounds, and Jacobson is finally back in the limelight for - this time - a job well done.

MI led at the halftime break, 27-26, following a physical first half in which it forced 14 FSU turnovers.

  • Lawrence Cooper