Michigan routs Florida to earn Final Four trip

Michigan finally has a replacement for the two Final Four banners it put away in storage after the Fab Five era was tainted by NCAA sanctions.

The Wolverines routed Florida, 79-59, on Sunday to earn their first Final Four appearance in 20 years, back when Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson were wowing the college basketball world. It’s also Coach John Beilein’s first Final Four berth in 35 years as a college coach.

Unlike Friday’s dramatic victory over Kansas, the Wolverines would not need a Trey Burke buzzer-beater. Michigan jumped out to a 13-0 lead to start the game and never again saw its advantage fall below double digits against a Florida squad that was facing its first single-digit seed of the NCAA tournament.

The Wolverines advance to face Syracuse in Atlanta on Saturday. They will be the only team there from the Big Ten, widely considered the strongest conference in the country this year.

It’s all the more impressive considering Michigan’s dynamic back court of Burke (seven assists) and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for just 24 points on 8-of-29 shooting. Instead, it was freshmen Nik Stauskas (22 points), Mitch McGary (11 points, nine rebounds) and Spike Albrecht (seven points, four steals) who paced the Wolverines to another victory. Players not named Burke or Hardaway shot 61.1 percent from the field for Michigan, which also forced 11 steals.

The Gators, who became the first team ever to lose in the Elite Eight in three straight years, did not beat a team by less than 10 points all season. The Wolverines, meanwhile, have erased the doubts that surfaced when they went 6-6 over their final 12 games of the regular season and suddenly look like a team capable of winning it all.

Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III capped off the blowout with this nasty alley oop (GIF courtesy of The Big Lead).


Mark Giannotto covers Virginia and Virginia Tech for The Washington Post.
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Mark Giannotto · March 31, 2013

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