The Dagger

Michigan saves the day for the Big Ten beating Florida to reach first Final Four since 1993

The Dagger

Michigan might have been voted least likely to succeed from the Big Ten Conference when the NCAA tournament began two weeks ago.

The Wolverines struggled down the stretch of the regular season and lost in ugly fashion to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament. But they regrouped and found the offensive mojo that led them to a No. 1 ranking earlier in the year and blew away Florida 79-59 Sunday in the Elite Eight.

The Wolverines advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1993 and the days of the Fab Five.

[Related: Michigan backup provides heady play in Elite Eight victory]

The victory is a measure of redemption for the Big Ten, which sent seven teams to the tournament with the other six falling short of the Final Four. The Big Ten has been considered the strongest conference in the nation all season.

Freshman guard Nik Stauskas provided the spark, scoring 19 points in the first half and finishing with 22, tying his career high.

Stauskas hadn't scored 20 points in a game since scoring establishing that career mark on Dec. 1 against Bradley.

Prior to Sunday, Stauskas had made two of his previous 16 3-point attempts going back to Michigan's final game in the Big Ten tournament against Wisconsin. He made all six of his 3-point attempts against Florida.

Meanwhile, Florida made just 2 of 10 3-pointers in a game that was dominated by the Michigan back court and played at a pace and tempo that favored the Wolverines and not the defensive-minded Gators.

Florida fell one win short of the Final Four for the third consecutive season. The Gators lost to Butler in 2011, Louisville in 2012 and the Wolverines this year. It has been a hard luck run in the Elite Eight for the Gators since winning back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

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