In a back-and-forth second half that featured six ties and 12 lead changes, Michigan prevailed over Tulsa in the First Four on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, winning 67–62 to advance to the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Why it matters
The Wolverines needed a last-second three-pointer to beat top-seeded Indiana in the Big Ten quarterfinals and secure a bid to the NCAA tournament but it was their cold shooting from outside on Wednesday that threatened to send them back to Ann Arbor quickly. Michigan shot just 6-of-25 from three, far below its season average of 38.4% (29th-best in the country), but it got one when it mattered most when Zak Irvin delivered a go-ahead three for a 62–60 lead with 55 seconds remaining. Tulsa, which was just 3-of-16 itself from beyond the arc, missed a jumper on the other end and the Wolverines closed it out by making its free throws. Irvin, with 16 points, was one of four Wolverines in double figures. The Golden Hurricane, the last team into the Big Dance and one few people felt belonged in the tournament, ends the season with a 20–12 record.
The Wolverines get to play Notre Dame on Friday in Brooklyn in an East Regional first-round game that will feature two of the best fight songs in college sports and, more importantly, two of the most efficient offenses in the nation.
If Michigan can rediscover its outside shooting touch, it could pull the upset of a Fighting Irish team that ranks 172nd nationally in defensive efficiency.