Florida State takes aim at third-seeded Michigan
| 4 weeks ago

LOS ANGELES -- Upstart Florida State does not have a go-to guy, per se, as much as go-to cohort. Michigan operates in a somewhat similar fashion, although it will bring the more recognizable names into the Elite Eight matchup between the two schools Saturday.

Nothing summarizes ninth-seeded Florida State's NCAA roll more than this -- the Seminoles (23-11) have received 118 points, 59 rebounds and 22 assists from their reserves while getting past Missouri, No. 1 seed Xavier and No. 4 seed Gonzaga.

Third-seeded and No. 7-ranked Michigan (31-7) also spreads things around, especially on the perimeter, although athletic big man Moe Wagner and point guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman are usually at the fore.

The Wolverines will be taking a 12-game winning streak into the West Regional final Saturday, their longest since they went 16-0 to open the 2013 season, the last time they reached the Final Four.

Florida State had lost three of four and five of eight before its NCAA Tournament run behind a group that includes senior starters Phil Cofer and Braian Angola, junior starter Terance Mann and bench contributors such as junior P.J. Savoy, sophomore Trent Forrest and redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele.

"We win games by committee," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We might have five guys to start, but they may not be the same five that finish. We believe in that philosophy. It doesn't really seem to matter with them who is playing as long as we are winning. This is a bunch of guys that are connected.

"We in the ACC, there are a lot of one-and-dones (players) and McDonald's All-Americans ... we feel that we can compete if we have a number of guys contributing night in and night out."

With its 75-60 victory over Gonzaga, Florida State has beaten three straight higher seeds to reach its third Elite Eight, and its first since 1993. The Seminoles will look to make their first Final Four since 1972, when the Ron King/Reggie Royals team lost to the Bill Walton/Jamaal Wilkes/Henry Bibby UCLA team in the title game.

With Florida State and Kansas State advancing Thursday, there are two No. 9 seeds in the Elite Eight for the first time in NCAA tournament history.

"It's interesting that we probably are the only ones (who) believe we are capable of doing this," Hamilton said. "We're always the underdog. We're clawing and scratching and scratching and clawing, just trying to put ourselves in position where we feel we are capable of going.

"Our youthful inexperience has raised its ugly head several times, and it cost us. But we've maintained a level of confidence that if we just keep learning, keep growing, keep maturing, we can put ourselves in this position."

The 6-foot-5 Forrest had seven points, six rebounds and six assists against Gonzaga, bringing his tournament totals to 29 points, 17 rebounds, 17 assists and nine steals in 81 minutes. The 6-8 Kabengele had four blocks Thursday and has seven in the tournament.

Mann scored 18 points against Xavier, the only Seminole in double figures, and said the strained hamstring that made him questionable for the 75-70 victory over the Musketeers on Sunday was no longer an issue.

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