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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Inside job: Michigan goes to the paint to top Florida State 76-58

UPDATED: Sun., March 28, 2021

Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) celebrates with teammates at the end of a Sweet 16 game against Florida State in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 76-58.  (Associated Press)
Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) celebrates with teammates at the end of a Sweet 16 game against Florida State in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 76-58. (Associated Press)
By Eddie Pells Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – What was touted as the marquee matchup in the Sweet 16 turned into a dud.

For everyone but Michigan, that is.

Seven-foot-1 freshman Hunter Dickinson had 14 points and eight rebounds 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 Michigan. The Wolverines scored their first 30 points of the second half from close range to turn this game into a blowout and lead coach Juwan Howard and Co. to a victory in the only 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 under John Beilein, whose departure a year later led to Howard’s hiring. On Tuesday, the Wolverines will play 11th-seeded UCLA for a trip to the Final Four.

On Sunday, they decimated Florida State’s inside defense. The evening’s most telling stat was points in the paint: Michigan 50, Florida State 28.

“We basically knew how they were going to play us all game with fronting the post and switching everything,” Wagner said. “We knew what to expect and did that in practice. And I think we did a really good job of not allowing them to speed us up.”

The Wolverines created havoc on the other end, too.

They forced Florida State so off the mark that the Seminoles didn’t score their 20th point until M.J. Walker (10 points) hit a jumper with 27 seconds left in the first half.

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 flashed 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.

“I think they were the best version of Michigan tonight,” Hamilton said. “Even though I thought we could have played a little better, I’m not sure Michigan didn’t have a lot to do with our inability to play as well as we have sometimes.”

The Wolverines have big men in Dickinson and 6-9 Wagner, the likes of whom FSU hasn’t faced much, even as its long, athletic bunch took the program to its third straight Sweet 16.

Dickinson also 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.

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