Like it or not, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (20-11) and the Michigan Wolverines (22-12) are in the NCAA Tournament and will face one another in the last of the First Four matchups. Michigan’s 203rd-ranked non-conference strength of schedule and 4-12 record against the RPI top 100 apparently was outweighed by Kameron Chatman’s semi-controversial (he traveled) buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top Indiana in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. But if you think the Wolverines didn’t deserve a bid, have you seen Tula’s resume?
The Golden Hurricane finished in a three-way tie for third (12-6) in what was a mediocre (at best) American Athletic Conference. Tulsa finished with a record of 8-11 versus the RPI top 150 and closed out its resume by getting beat by lowly Memphis twice in three games. The Hurricane’s resume simply doesn’t add up to merit an at-large bid. The Selection Committee flat out failed with this pick.
First Four: No. 11 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 11 Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
When: 9:10 p.m. ET (Wednesday, approximate tip time)
Where: University of Dayton Arena (Dayton, OH)
Line: Michigan -4
Keys for Michigan
Without leading scorer Caris LeVert, Michigan hasn’t put up a ton of points, but still remains as one of the most efficient offenses in the Big Ten. Despite their vanilla resume, the Wolverines are one of the best teams in the nation at protecting possessions and knocking down open shots. With a balanced offensive attack featuring Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton and Duncan Robinson, paired with good 3-point shooting and Tulsa’s poor perimeter defense, John Beilein’s team should secure a first round date with Notre Dame on Friday night.
Keys for Tulsa
Tulsa’s perimeter offense and defense is among the bottom third in the country, but its interior defense and ability to create turnovers could keep this game close. Also, Tulsa is one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, on both sides of the glass. The Golden Hurricane rank 234th in offensive rebounding percentage compared to Michigan’s top 50 ranking in defensive rebounding percentage. So finding ways to string multiple possessions together, and keep the ball away from the efficient Michigan offense will be essential for Frank Haith's team.
Typically, if you’re in the First Four, you’re either just happy to be a part of the Big Dance (Holy Cross), or proving to the rest of college basketball that you belong in the Tournament. If you’re a Michigan fan, you’re looking at Tulsa and probably already thinking about the Fighting Irish on Friday night. I don’t blame you. Tulsa is a near-ideal matchup for the perimeter-oriented Wolverines. The Golden Hurricane’s inability to slow teams down outside the arc has been their Achilles heel, and with the well-rounded offensive attack of the Wolverines, I don’t see Tulsa advancing to play Notre Dame.