The Michigan Wolverines will face the Florida Gators in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament after a victory over the Montana Grizzlies. This matchup is not the first between these two. In the 2013 Tournament, Michigan defeated Florida in the regional final, 79-59.
Michigan is ranked as the No. 2 team in the West Region bracket while Florida is at No. 10.
What: No. 2 Michigan (29-6) vs. No. 10 Florida (20-15)
When: Saturday, March 23, 5:15 PM ET on CBS
Where: Wells Fargo Arena; Des Moines, IA
Keys to Victory for Michigan
As the distributor on offense, Zavier Simpson has averaged 10-assists since the start of the Big Ten tournament. When he can dish out a similar number of assists, then it makes the game easier for his teammates. Simpson is a deadly floor general who finds open shots for himself and others. Furthermore, his shot selection must be solid as poor decision-making may compromise Michigan’s other strengths.
Scoring off turnovers is one of the ways opposing teams can counter Michigan’s top-notch defense. Therefore, limiting turnovers will secure a Michigan victory. However, when the Wolverines do get sloppy with the ball, other teams can ignite a comeback or grow their lead. For example, going into the Montana game, Michigan averaged a total of nine turnovers per game, but in the first half alone, they had eight. These turnovers enabled the Grizzlies to stay within striking distance when they should have been down by at least 20-points during halftime.
On the offensive side, Jordan Poole needs to be the spark for Michigan. With Charles Matthews looking healthy now, Ignas “Iggy” Brazdeikis will have another teammate to relieve the offensive pressure as he is the Wolverines’ leading scorer, averaging 15.0 points-per-game. Additionally, Isaiah Livers will be relied upon to knock-down open three-pointers.
Keys to Victory for Florida
Scoring off turnovers is helpful for the Gators because it enables them to rack up points before the Wolverines can set up their defensive schemes. Moving on, Florida’s standout player is KeVaughn Allen, who is averaging 11.9 points-per-game this season.
A crucial way for the Gators to counter the Michigan defense is by having Allen score well over his season average. He will most likely need to drop at least 15-points.
Andrew Nembhard is managing Florida in assists, with 5.3 assists-per-game. Thus, he must find his teammates and warm them up, so they can have a tremendous impact on the game.
Therefore, Florida’s fate lies in the hands of KeVaughn Allen and Andrew Nembhard. Paired with solid defense from their team, these two can then focus on scoring and passing to give the Gators a chance at pulling off an upset.
All in all, everything must be near-perfect for Florida to win. KeVaughn Allen needs to have a career night against a top defense. But there is never a guaranteed win in the NCAA Tournament as the anticipation of a March Madness upset is in the air.
In the end, the Gators will stay close with the Wolverines until halftime. Then, because John Beilein has veteran Tournament experience, he will make the correct adjustments for the Maize and Blue to advance to the third round.
Final Score: Michigan 65 – Florida 54
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