LOS ANGELES – Using a 9-0 run late in the game, third-seeded Michigan won the West Region on Saturday night with a 58-54 decision over ninth-seeded Florida State at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Charles Matthews paced the Wolverines (32-7) with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Moritz Wagner chipped in 12 points despite foul trouble that sent him to the bench during the game-deciding spurt.
Duncan Robinson capped the key run with a 3-pointer from the right corner with 2:22 left that gave Michigan a 54-44 lead. It barely held up as the Seminoles (23-12) stormed back with an 8-1 burst, slicing the deficit to 55-52 on a 3-pointer by PJ Savoy with 1:16 remaining.
Florida State made it a 56-54 game when Phil Cofer, its leading scorer with 16 points, tipped in a missed shot with 22.0 seconds left. Michigan’s Robinson sank two free throws with 20.9 seconds remaining, then grabbed the rebound of a missed Florida State 3-pointer and dribbled out the clock.
The Wolverines will meet South Region champion Loyola-Chicago on March 31 in the Final Four in San Antonio. It’s Michigan’s first Final Four appearance since 2013.
Savoy finished with 12 points for the Seminoles, who made just 32 percent of their field-goal attempts.
The teams that raced up and down the floor in lopsided regional semifinal wins Thursday night bore no resemblance to the ones that set the tone for a grinding first half in which neither led by more than six points.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman drained a 3-pointer to give Michigan a 10-4 edge just over three minutes into the game, but Florida State’s length and quickness began bothering the Wolverines at that point.
Holding Michigan to four points in just under 6 1/2 minutes, the Seminoles grabbed a 17-15 edge when Braian Angola swished two free throws following a Flagrant 1 foul on Robinson at the 10:32 mark. But the Wolverines didn’t allow a point over the final 4:40 of the half, and Wagner’s two foul shots with a minute left gave them a 27-26 edge at intermission.
–Field Level Media
Celtics will be without Kyrie Irving (11) for 3-6 weeks
SACRAMENTO – The Boston Celtics are performing admirably in the wake of a nasty run of injuries, taking out two of the top four teams in the Western Conference in recent days. The Celtics seek their third straight victory against a West foe when they continue a four-game road trip at the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Two days after knocking off Oklahoma City at home and hours after announcing that All-Star guard Kyrie Irving would undergo a surgical procedure on his ailing left knee, Boston won at Portland 105-100 on Friday. Marcus Morris continued to step up for the Celtics with 30 points – one shy of his season high – as his team rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to stun the Trail Blazers. “I would just say our character is unbelievable,” guard Shane Larkin told reporters. “We’re really fighters, and that’s what’s made us so great.” The Kings are playing out another losing season but aren’t going down without a fight of their own and split their last 12 games, including Thursday’s 105-90 triumph over Atlanta at home in front of a limited crowd due to protests outside the arena over a recent police shooting.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, NBCS California (Sacramento)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (49-23): Irving’s procedure is a minimally invasive one that the team hopes can get its leader back on the court soon. Fellow guard Jaylen Brown has missed six games in a row as he recovers from a concussion but coach Brad Stevens told reporters that the athletic second-year pro could play at Sacramento. Morris is averaging 21.6 points while shooting 51.7 percent from 3-point range over his last five games and Larkin collected a season-high seven assists at Portland.
ABOUT THE KINGS (24-49): Players admitted it was difficult to focus on the game Thursday night with the protests going on outside Golden 1 Center, but rookie Justin Jackson was able to concentrate enough to produce the best game of his young career. The North Carolina product had a personal-best 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting – including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc – and is 14-for-17 from the floor over his last two games. “It definitely throws you off for sure,” Jackson told reporters of the events outside the arena. “It even throws you off going out there and seeing all those seats empty and you know why. It was definitely tough. We did a good job of trying to stay as locked in as we could.”
1. Sacramento is 8-5 at home against Eastern Conference opponents, compared to 5-18 against the West.
2. Celtics C Greg Monroe is averaging 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds off the bench over his last five games.
3. Irving and Brown scored 22 points apiece as Boston rolled over Sacramento 113-86 at home earlier this season.
Ryan Donato (17)
MINNEAPOLIS – With a spot in the playoffs already secured, the Boston Bruins still have the Presidents’ Trophy in their sights. The Bruins continue their quest for first overall in the NHL when they resume their four-game road trip Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.
Boston is second in the Atlantic Division and trails Nashville and Tampa Bay by four points for the top spot in the league with a game in hand on the Predators and two on the Lightning. The club is 1-0-1 on its trek and extended its point streak to four games (2-0-2) on Friday with a 3-2 triumph at Dallas in which David Pastrnak completed a third-period comeback from a two-goal deficit with 12 seconds remaining. Minnesota also is riding a four-game point streak (3-0-1) after posting a 4-1 victory over the Predators on Saturday in which Jason Zucker recorded a goal and an assist. The Wild, who are wrapping up a three-game homestand, own a two-point lead over Colorado for third place in the Central Division.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
ABOUT THE BRUINS (46-17-10): Brad Marchand leads the team with 78 points after registering a goal and two assists in the victory over the Stars. The 29-year-old left wing has matched the career high of 46 assists he set last season and is seven points away from tying his personal best, which he also totaled in 2016-17. Pastrnak, who notched an assist prior to his game-winning goal on Friday for his career-high 71st point, has not been kept off the scoresheet in consecutive contests since a four-game stretch from Feb. 10-17.
ABOUT THE WILD (42-24-8): Zucker’s tally on Saturday was his 30th of the season, marking the first time the 26-year-old left wing has reached the plateau in his career. Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal both enter Sunday with a four-game point streak, as each has collected two goals and two assists during their runs. Zach Parise, who missed a bulk of the campaign due to injury, also tallied on Saturday to reach double digits for the 12th time in his 13-season career.
1. Bruins G Tuukka Rask has posted a 7-0-1 record over his last eight starts.
2. Minnesota’s Bruce Boudreau on Saturday became the 26th coach in league history to record 500 victories.
3. Boston F Noel Acciari’s next appearance will be the 100th of his NHL career.
ATLANTA – An unlikely trip to the Final Four wouldn’t mark uncharted territory for Loyola Chicago or Kansas State, but neither team has advanced that far in more than five decades. The teams that busted up the NCAA Tournament’s South Regional bracket – the ninth-seeded Wildcats and the 11th-seeded Ramblers – square off Saturday in Atlanta with a long-awaited return to the Final Four on the line.
Kansas State is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2010, but the Wildcats lost the last six times they had a chance to advance to the Final Four. Their last trip came in 1964 – one year after Loyola claimed the national title in their only Final Four trip. The Ramblers were a power in the 1960s but hadn’t been in the NCAA Tournament since 1985 before this year’s Cinderella run in which the Ramblers have won three games by a total of four points, including a 69-68 win over No. 7 seed Nevada on Thursday. Kansas State, which overcame foul trouble to escape with a 61-58 win over No. 5 seed Kentucky on Thursday, will be the lowest-seeded team Loyola has faced thus far after beating the Nos. 6, 3, and 7 seeds.
TV: 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
ABOUT LOYOLA CHICAGO (31-5): The Ramblers have won 13 straight – the longest streak in the nation – and 20 of their last 21. They closed out the win over Nevada by shooting 75 percent in the second half, as Marques Townes (11.2 points) and Aundre Jackson (11.2 points) made key 3-pointers down the stretch. Five players averaged double-digit scoring with Clayton Custer (13.4) – the hero of the Tennessee win – leading the way.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (25-11): Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Wildcats’ run through the tournament – which was aided by No. 16 seed Maryland-Baltimore County knocking off overall No. 1 seed Virginia – is the fact they’ve done it with very little contribution from leading scorer and rebounder Dean Wade (16.2 points, 6.2 rebounds). The 6-10 center missed the first two games with a foot injury and was limited to eight minutes against Kentucky. Point guard Barry Brown (16 points, 3.3 assists) and swingman Xavier Sneed (11 points, 5.1 rebounds) have stepped up to carry the load in his absence.
1. Kansas State is 10-2 when making at least nine 3-pointers, including two wins in the NCAA Tournament.
2. The Ramblers are 22-0 when leading at halftime and 29-1 when scoring at least 60 points.
3. The Wildcats are 20-2 when leading at halftime and 24-2 when shooting for a higher percentage from the field than the opposition.