After Syracuse and Wichita State (shockingly) busted more brackets and booked their tickets to Atlanta, where the Final Four awaits, Michigan, Florida, Louisville, and Duke all hope to punch their tickets to the Final Four on the second day of Elite Eight action. Now, it’s time to predict the first Elite Eight matchup of the day in Michigan vs. Florida.
(4) Michigan Wolverines vs. (3) Florida Gators
How Michigan Wins
Michigan’s guard play is hands-down the best in the country, boasting its dynamic duo of Trey Burke (19.2 ppg, 6.7 apg) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.8 ppg), and their efficiency is the best in the country, boasting a nation-leading 1.55 assist-to-turnover ratio. Burke showed us all why he is the best player in the nation, scoring all of his 23 points in the second half and stealing the show with a game-tying three-pointer from JimmerRange to send the Sweet Sixteen matchup with one-seeded Kansas into overtime, where the Wolverines eventually prevailed. An excellent complement to their guards
is freshman phenom Mitch McGary, who is averaging a godly 20 points and 12 boards in this year’s tourney. His energy and domination on the offensive glass has carried this star-studded Michigan squad to the next level. For Michigan to win this game, McGary will need to neutralize Florida big man Patric Young and assert himself on the offensive glass once again. Florida’s strength is its perimeter offense and three-point shooting (nearly 40% from beyond the arc this season), and Michigan boasts one of the better perimeter defenses in the country. Mix that in with their unstoppable guards, a reliable supporting cast (Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Jordan Morgan), great bench play, and stunning offensive efficiency, and you have yourself a recipe for success, especially against a Florida team that can’t win close games (0-6 in games decided by six or fewer points).
How Florida Wins
While Michigan’s guard play has stolen the hearts of this nation’s basketball fans, let’s not forget Florida’s. Kenny Boyton, Scottie Wilbekin, and Mike Rosario are all dependable and
efficient guards with a knack for hitting the three ball. And Michigan’s achilles heal comes in the trenches, with only one dependable center in Mitch McGary, Florida is poised to beat them up down low, as Patric Young, Erik Murphy, and Will Yeguete can do just that. Also, experience has constantly proven to be a factor in these types of games, and Florida has just that. This team has been to the Elite Eight three straight times, while Michigan hasn’t been to one since the Fab Five in 1994. Also, I’m trusting a big-time coach in Billy Donovan, who has won two national championships. Florida matches up very favorably against Michigan, putting their strength on Michigan’s weakness in frontcourt play. If Michigan can’t contend with Florida’s big men, the Gators should roll to the Final Four.
Florida is 0-6 this year in close games. This will be a close game. Michigan wins and books its ticket to Atlanta.
Michigan 75, Florida 71