Team 102

NCAA 2018: Michigan vs. Florida State Preview

Michigan will play Florida State on Thursday night (8:49 p.m., TBS) for a trip to the Final Four.

It will be John Beilein vs. Leonard Hamilton facing off on Saturday night for a trip to the Final Four. Just like everyone imagined.

Both coaches were expected to face rebuilding seasons this year. Hamilton lost three starters to the NBA and Beilein lost two key seniors and an early entrant of his own. Yet here they are, coaching for a trip to San Antonio.

The last time Michigan faced Florida State was back in November 2013 when the Wolverines erased a 16-point second half lead to win in overtime in the Puerto Rico Tip Off semifinals. Now they’ll play in front of a packed Staples Center with a chance to cut down the nets.

More on Michigan-Florida State

The Seminoles

The Seminoles are a tough team to evaluate because nothing on their profile jumps off the page. They are ranked 33rd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 44th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but aren’t ranked in the top-50 for any of the four factors (effective field goal percentage, turnover rate, offensive rebounding rate or free throw rate) on offense or defense.

The three most important things to know about Florida State is that it likes to play fast (41st nationally in tempo), is loaded with size (12th nationally in average height) and plays a deep bench (96th nationally in bench minutes).

Florida State’s offense finished 3rd in the ACC at 1.09 points per possession. Their ability to score inside and attack the basket was the foundation of their success. The Seminoles finished the year ranked 1st in the ACC in free throw rate and 3rd in 2-point shooting percentage. They were solid on the offensive glass (4th), but shot just 33% from 3-point range (13th) in league play.

Florida State’s defense has flipped the switch in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles have allowed just .88 points per possession combined in wins over Missouri, Xavier and Gonzaga. Compare that to league play, when they held ACC opponents below a point per possession just three times in 19 tries and allowed 1.10 points per possession overall.

The most prominent reasons for the defensive turnaround appear to be 3-point percentage regression (or luck) and an improved ability to force turnovers. Florida State opponents made 40.4% of their threes while attempting 38.6% of their shots from deep in ACC play.  In the NCAA Tournament, teams are making just 31.5% of their 3-pointers against the Noles.


As we’ve been doing throughout the NCAA Tournament, make sure to read our full matchup breakdown to find shot charts, video and more on an individual basis.

Florida State’s roster is best thought of in three buckets: drivers, floor spacers and finishers.

Mfiondu Kabengele, Christ Koumadje and Ike Obiagu are the finishers. They are primarily screen setters who can roll to the basket, catch and finish. They are athletic shot blockers who are aggressive on the glass. Kabengele is the most versatile of the group at 6-foot-8, 240-pounds and he

Braian Angola, Phil Cofer, MJ Walker and PJ Savoy are the primary floor spacers and they all make around 38% of their 3-point attempts. Cofer is the player to watch because his versatility should be critical. He’s a pick-and-pop four man who loves to shoot from the corners, he also seems to be a likely option to slide to the five to match up more effectively with Moritz Wagner’s perimeter ability.

The primary drivers are Terance Mann, Trent Forrest and CJ Walker. Walker is one of the few Seminoles who is a drive or shoot threat while Forrest and Mann are both elite players around the basket. Perhaps the biggest concern for Michigan is that FSU can rotate through a number of lineup combinations that feature 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6 players at the lead guard spot and create a size advantage against Zavier Simpson.


  • Transition defense: Florida State has a top 20 transition offense, Michigan has a top 5 transition defense. Something has to give. The Seminoles are going to try to speed this game up any way that they can, but Michigan needs to control the tempo while simultaneously finding opportunities to attack on their own transition opportunities.
  • Contain dribble penetration: The Seminole roster is loaded with 6-foot-6 wings who thrive putting the ball on the deck and getting to the rim. Michigan hasn’t faced many teams with this much perimeter size and this much length on the wings. Florida State does a great job of sprinkling in other action (corner 3-point shooters, backside cuts) to provide an outlet for their guards and wings when they get in the lane and that will prevent Michigan from over helping.
  • Make 3-pointers: Florida State has been riding a wave of good 3-point luck after getting destroyed from the perimeter in league play, Michigan is coming off of a hot shooting performance. The Wolverines should get 3-point attempts against an FSU team that defends inside out, but they have to make them if they want to advance to the Final Four.

Bottom Line

KenPom likes Michigan in this one by a final score of 73-69, giving the Wolverines a 66% chance at picking up their 13th straight victory.

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