NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Game Preview: Michigan vs. Florida State

Mar 27, 2021 - 2:42 AM

The top half of the East Region gives us our only “chalk” matchup of the second weekend, as both the No. 1 seed Michigan and No. 4 seed Florida State advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Wolverines survived the absence of Isaiah Livers for the first weekend, trouncing Texas Southern before outlasting LSU in a thrilling game. Meanwhile, Florida State moved past UNC-Greensboro without hitting a 3-point shot, then blew out Colorado in the Round of 32.

Will Livers’ absence finally catch up to Michigan against Leonard Hamilton’s group? Let’s breakdown Sunday’s Sweet Sixteen showdown:

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(4) Florida State Seminoles vs. (1) Michigan Wolverines

Game Odds

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3/28/2021 4:00 PM EST – CBS | Bankers Life Fieldhouse

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Betting Preview: Florida State Seminoles (16-6 SU, 11-10-1 ATS, 14-8 O/U) 

This is a classic Florida State team. The Seminoles are long, deep, and versatile. Nine different players average at least 13 minutes per game, and seven of them are at least 6-foot-6.

The Seminoles have a ton of talent, but they don’t rely on one star player. M.J. Walker, RaiQuan Gray, Scottie Barnes, and Anthony Polite all average double figures in scoring.

Florida State does almost everything well offensively. The Noles rank 10th in adjusted-offensive efficiency, 31st in effective field goal percentage, and 21st in offensive rebounding, per Torvik. The Seminoles haven’t shot well from 3-point range during the tournament but could be in for some positive regression. Florida State has shot 38.2% from deep this season.

Florida State’s fatal flaw is it can get careless with the ball. The Seminoles turn it over on 20.3% of its possessions, which ranks 251st in the country.

Defensively, FSU uses its length to make things extremely difficult for opponents inside. Opponents are shooting just 42.9% from inside the arc against Florida State, the 9th-stingiest rate in the country. This forces teams to take a higher percentage of 3-point shots, but that hasn’t worked either. Teams are shooting just 32.6% of their threes against FSU.

Betting Preview: Michigan Wolverines (20-4 SU, 17-7 ATS, 9-15 O/U) 

Had Michigan been at full strength, it would’ve been one of the favorites to win the national championship.

The Wolverines really don’t have a weakness. They rank eighth in adjusted-offensive efficiency and 16th in defensive efficiency, per Torvik. Michigan’s offense runs through 7-foot-1 big man Hunter Dickinson, who’s one of the nation’s best big men. When defenders collapse or double team Dickinson, the Wolverines make you pay with excellent 3-point shooting.

Michigan is also outstanding defensively, particularly inside, where they allow teams to shoot just 42.6%.

However, Michigan’s play has regressed slightly with Livers out. And his absence will be felt most against Florida State’s length. The Seminoles have the size to guard Dickinson without doubling him, so it will come down to Michigan’s 3-point shooting. But Michigan has only shot 19-of-51 from deep during the NCAA Tournament.

Against the Spread Pick 

This could be a bad matchup for the Wolverines for two reasons: Florida State’s length and size could give Dickinson problems down low, and Michigan doesn’t force many turnovers. And while the Wolverines have survived without Livers thus far, they’ll really miss his 3-point shooting ability in this game. Spacing the floor against Florida State’s length is a tough task as it is. It’ll be even harder without Livers.

For all of these reasons, I like Florida State with the points. I’d also recommend taking FSU on the moneyline.

Pick: Florida State +2.5

Over/Under Pick 

I don’t have a strong play on the total, but I’d lean the under as I still trust Michigan’s defense and think Florida State’s size could give the Wolverines issues inside and out.

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