Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the up-and-down play of Florida State Seminoles basketball made it look like it had a chance of not making it through the first weekend.
They lost their footing towards the end of the season and limped through the ACC tournament but after a couple of convincing wins early during March Madness, there is a newfound optimism surrounding this team.
Unfortunately, this momentum is steering them directly into the sights of a one seed: the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan has been seen as a top 3 team for the majority of the season. A lot of that perception came from their dominance of what was thought to be the toughest conference in college basketball, finishing with a 14-3 record in the Big 10.
Second-year head coach and former Wolverine player (as well as former Wizards player under Leonard Hamilton) Juwan Howard should get a lot of the credit for this standout season. He has constructed a well-balanced roster loaded with great shooting and dominant inside presence.
Transfer point guard Mike Smith has matured into a distributor who is a lethal weapon if left alone. Franz Wagner, Isaiah Livers, and Eli Brooks all shoot above 40% from beyond the arc, but none of that really makes a one seed. You need a lynchpin. For Michigan, that lynchpin has been freshman Center, Hunter Dickinson.
Dickinson does everything well. He has the size to take advantage of smaller players, he has the moves to finish around bigger players, and he has the vision and selflessness to share with his great shooters that spread the court.
On the surface, these things seem to spell doom for the Seminoles. However, things aren’t always what they first seem.
The Big 10 has shown in the tournament that it was probably not the monster conference that metrics were making it out to be. Cumulatively they are 6-7 with many of those 7 being big upsets.
Isaiah Livers, probably the Wolverines most experienced player, is out for the remainder of the season leaving them short on exchangeable wings.
Dickinson is incredibly talented but is still a freshman. He has to contend with one of the better offensive centers in the country in FSU’s Balsa Kopravica.
Also, the Wolverines don’t match up well with the Seminoles schematically. This point is best served with film.
While Michigan might be the weakest one seed remaining they are still a one seed. They deserve their spot in the rankings and it's never easy to topple the top dogs of a region. FSU has their work cut out for them. If they want to keep their hopes of a long tournament run alive, they have to come with something to prove on Sunday.
HOW TO WATCH
Sunday, March 28, 5:00 pm
ESPN, YoutubeTV, March Madness Live app, Sling, FuboTV
‘Nole Radio Network