Florida knocked out Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast late Friday night and will try to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta with a win in today’s Elite 8 game against Michigan.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Michigan has reached the Elite Eight for the first time in 19 years while Florida is part of the festivities for the third straight season when the two squads meet in today’s South Regional final at Arlington, Texas.
The third-seeded Gators are attempting to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2007, when they won the second of back-to-back national championships. The fourth-seeded Wolverines are still alive because of an epic comeback to beat Kansas in overtime.
Michigan trailed by 10 points with less than three minutes left in regulation against the Jayhawks before Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke caught fire, scoring eight points in the final 75 seconds and forcing overtime with a 28-foot 3-pointer.
“We love coaching him because he’s got courage,” Wolverines coach John Beilein said afterward.
Florida ousted fan favorite Florida Gulf Coast with strong defensive play that included 20 turnovers.
The next task is ending the streak of two straight losses in regional title games.
ABOUT FLORIDA (29-7): The Gators lack superstars, and the rotation is only eight players deep, but anyone can emerge as the key player during any given contest.
Senior guard Mike Rosario had 15 points against Florida Gulf Coast and is 10-of-19 from 3-point range during the tournament, while junior forward Casey Prather excelled off the bench with 11 points against the Eagles.
“We wanted to come out and play with energy and help our team win,” Prather said of Florida’s strong bench contributions. “I think we did a great job of doing it. We made up our mind that we didn’t want to leave.”
Rosario and senior forward Erik Murphy each average 12.6 points.
Senior guard Kenny Boynton chips in 12 points per game, junior center Patric Young averages 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds and junior guard Scottie Wilbekin contributes 9.3 points and 4.9 assists.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (29-7): Freshman forward Mitch McGary has emerged as a star in the NCAA Tournament by averaging 19.7 points and 12.3 rebounds.
McGary scored a season-high 25 points and matched a season best with 14 rebounds against the Jayhawks in his fifth career start.
“Coach has done a tremendous job of just allowing me for this opportunity to just get this many minutes, and be in the starting lineup,” McGary said afterward. “I’m honored to have it. He says if you play hard in practice, you’re going to earn these minutes.”
McGary’s seasons averages are 7.3 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds. Burke, a sophomore point guard, leads the Wolverines in scoring (18.9) and assists (6.8) and finished with 23 points and 10 assists against Kansas. Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. averages 14.8 points.
Duke vs. Louisville
INDIANAPOLIS — Louisville is the final No. 1 seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament and looked unbeatable behind Russ Smith in the first three games.
Making the Final Four is never easy, however, and the Cardinals will need to get through No. 2 seed Duke in the Midwest Regional Final today.
The Blue Devils have not had much trouble in their trip to the Elite Eight, either, and like Louisville have plenty of experience going deep in the tournament.
The Cardinals have won 13 straight games going back to the regular season and have lived up to the hype as the No. 1 overall seed thanks in part to a total of 81 points in three NCAA Tournament games from Smith.
Duke can match Smith and Louisville shot for shot with Seth Curry, who went for 29 points in the Sweet 16 victory over Michigan State and is 10-for-20 from 3-point range in the tournament. After being bounced by a No. 15 seed last season, the Blue Devils are trying to make their first Final Four appearance since winning the National Championship in 2010.
ABOUT DUKE (30-5): Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski has not faced Louisville coach Rick Pitino in the NCAA Tournament since Christian Laettner’s historic shot against Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight ended one of the greatest college basketball games ever.
Krzyzewski’s 2012-13 team is not quite the same, but it does have a plethora of scoring options.
Curry was just the latest to take over for Duke after sharing the scoring load with Mason Plumlee in the opening game of the tournament and letting freshman Rasheed Sulaimon take over in the third-round victory over Creighton.
Sulaimon attacking the paint helped open things up for Curry to hit six 3-pointers in the 71-61 victory over the Spartans on Friday. All five starters scored at least 14 points the last time the Blue Devils faced the Cardinals, with Plumlee’s 16 points leading the way in a 76-71 victory in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Nov. 24.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (32-5): The Cardinals were without center Gorgui Dieng in the November meeting with Duke, but Peyton Siva collected 19 points and six steals and Smith scored 17 to keep things close.
Dieng is shooting 87.5 percent in the tournament and should make things more difficult for Plumlee this time around.
Louisville has won its 13 straight games by an average of 17.3 points but was sluggish in the Sweet 16 win over Oregon because of a cold virus making its way through the squad.
Smith had the worst of it Friday but still managed 31 points in the 77-69 victory.
Siva spent most of the game in foul trouble but backup point guard Kevin Ware went 5-for-7 off the bench in his place.
The Cardinals are largely the same team that reached the Final Four last season, though Smith has taken on a greater role.