NCAA South – Florida to defeat Michigan and move on to Final Four

Only six teams remain in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, as two of the Elite Eight games have been played with the Wichita State Shockers and Syracuse Orange punching their tickets to the Final Four.

Today two more Elite Eight games take place. In the Midwest regional the No. 1 seeded Louisville Cardinals meet the No. 2 seeded Duke Blue Devils. However, in the South regional there will be an intriguing afternoon matchup between the Michigan Wolverines and the Florida Gators.

Florida is seeded No. 3 in the regional and Michigan is No. 4. Florida was the winner of the regular season SEC conference with an overall record of 29-7 SU, however Ole Miss defeated them in the championship game of the season ending conference tournament.

Thus far, Florida easily defeated Northwestern State 79-47 and then Minnesota 78-64. In the Sweet 16, Florida put an end to the Cinderella run of Florida Gulf Coast 62-50. In that game, FGC started strong and lead 24-11 early, but Florida held them to only 26 points the rest of the game and forced the Eagles into 20 turnovers.

Michigan is 29-7 on the season tied for fourth in their Big Ten conference, considered by many to be the country’s strongest conference.

Michigan to reach the Elite Eight game today beat South Dakota by the score of 71-56, and then routed Virginia Commonwealth 78-53. In their Sweet 16 matchup, the Wolverines rallied from 14 points down in the last 7 minutes of play to force the game into overtime by outscoring Kansas 22-8. Kansas even was ahead by 5 with 21 second on the clock and Michigan was able to tie the score.

This is just the third time Michigan and Florida have played head-to-head. Both teams won one game on a neutral site in their two previous meetings. Florida took the last encounter in 1998 in a Miami tournament, while Michigan won in 1988 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Florida only allows an average of 54 points per game and that ranks them No. 3 in the nation in that category. The Gators are 18-15 this season against the spread, while the Wolverines are 17-16-1 ATS. Michigan allows an average of 62 points per game or about 8 more points per game than Florida.

This season Michigan has a record of 7- 1 ATS in games played on neutral courts. Florida has won 4 out of its 5 Sunday games ATS and in NCAA tournament games against teams from the Big Ten, Florida is 18-6 overall.

Florida has reached the Elite Eight for the past two seasons, only to lose both the Regional title game both years. Florida has not been in the Final Four since they won two straight titles in 2006 and 2007. Michigan has not reached a Final Four since the famous Fab 5 played in two consecutive national titles and lost both in 1992 and 1993.

Defensively the Gators are much stronger than Michigan, while both teams are very strong in the backcourt.

Prediction: Florida 69 – Michigan 65.

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