ARLINGTON -- The Michigan Wolverines jumped out to a 13-0 lead against the Florida Gators and never let up on their way to a dominating 79-59 victory in front of 36,585 fans for the NCAA Men's Basketball Elite Eight round at Cowboys Stadium.
The week that began with an open practice for all four teams that was free to the public and continued with the Sweet 16 round on Friday night, concluded Sunday with Michigan moving on to its first Final Four since the vaunted Fab Five in 1993. The entire process, considered a "dress rehearsal" of sorts for the 2014 Final Four at Cowboys Stadium (April 5-7), went off smoothly.
While there were a handful of empty seats Sunday afternoon, many of those likely belonged to the Kansas Jayhawks -- and their large group of fans that travel the country to watch them play. Kansas bowed out in the tournament's only overtime contest on Friday night. When the NCAA basketball returns a year from now, the capacity and the crowds will far exceed the 42,000 set up for the South Regional as the top level will be opened for one of the marquee events on the sports calendar.
As for the team that defeated Kansas in the Sweet 16, Michigan is the youngest team in the tournament and features many familiar names. Glenn Robinson III (son of Glenn Robinson, the top pick in the 1994 NBA Draft for the Milwaukee Bucks, selected ahead of the Mavs No. 2 pick, Jason Kidd), Jon Horford (father Tito Horford played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Bullets and his brother Al Horford currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (father Tim Hardaway played in the NBA from 1989-2003 including 2001-02 with the Dallas Mavericks) all contributed to the cutting down of the nets.
"It was really cool to win it here (in North Texas)," said Tim Hardaway Jr., who lived in Plano in the fourth grade while his father played for the Mavs. "It's great to be able to share this with friends and family."
While there is still work for the Wolverines to do next week at the Final Four in Atlanta, there is no doubt that Hardaway and company with their "defense wins championships" mentality are comfortable playing in Jerry Jones' palace with its cavernous feel compared to regular arenas. Do not be surprised to see head coach John Beilein's Michigan team back in DFW next year in their second consecutive Final Four, much like the Fab Five in 1992 and 1993.
Applications to purchase tickets to the 2014 Men's Basketball Final Four at Cowboys Stadium are being accepted now at NCAA.com/mbbtickets. Entries will be selected at random and accepted until May 31. The winners will be selected in a drawing in July and notified in August.
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