DES MOINES, Iowa — Death, taxes, and Michigan taking on Florida. These are the three certainties in life. The 2-seed Wolverines will take on the 10-seed Gators in a West Regional second-round matchup at Wells Fargo Arena Saturday afternoon (5:15 ET, CBS.) The winner advances to the Sweet 16 and will play Thursday in Anaheim.
Saturday’s game marks the seventh time since 2013 that Michigan and Florida will square off in either men’s basketball, football, or softball. The two schools are tied at three wins each with Michigan collecting one in basketball and two in football. The Gators won the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl over the Wolverines in December and notched a regular season softball win in 2019 as well as taking the 2015 Women’s College World Series against the Wolverines.
“I talk to Donovan (Peoples-Jones) and Tarik (Black) all the time,” Jordan Poole said of his friendship with the pair of Michigan wide receivers. “We’re really close friends. Me, Isaiah and them. We got text messages like ‘Yo we played Florida, and they beat us, and we beat em last year,’ and it’s just a little thing we talked about.”
“We’re obviously two separate sports, but it seems to be a school thing at this point. So we will just try to fight back for the football team and try to get a win.”
Last time the basketball teams faced off was the 2013 Elite Eight. Michigan opened the game on a 23-5 run against the Gators and won 79-59, sending the Wolverines to their first Final Four since 1993. Nik Stauskas, a freshman at the time, paced Michigan with 22 points and went six for six from beyond the arc. Michigan freshman Ignas Brazdeikis, only 14 years old at the time, did not witness that game.
Brazdeikis was not made aware of Stauskas’ legendary performance until Friday afternoon in the Michigan locker room.
“I didn’t even know that actually, that’s crazy,” replied Brazdeikis when he heard of his fellow countryman’s performance against the Gators six years ago. “That was the year with Trey Burke and them? Nik is different you know. He is one of the best players Michigan has ever had.”
As for if that adds a little competitive juice to Saturday’s game for Brazdeikis, he remained coy.
“I try to play my best every single game, so you know definitely that could add a little more fuel to the fire, but that is impressive.”
Michigan will be looking to impress against the Gators Saturday night in Des Moines as the Wolverines try to punch their ticket to a third consecutive Sweet 16.
Today's game between #Michigan and #Florida has some personal significance for John Beilein and Iggy Brazdeikis as they have personal ties to members of the Gator coaching staff and roster. @wolverinelounge @brandonbjustice WATCH: pic.twitter.com/5SvOU43tAo
— Jay Sarkar (@ByJaySarkar) March 23, 2019