In the last game of the NCAA Tournament's First Four round, Michigan defeated Tulsa, 67-62, to advance to the round of 64. Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led all Wolverine scorers with 16 points each in the win, and their club has earned the chance to play No. 6 Notre Dame Friday in Brooklyn.
While the second half turned into a racing back-and-forth affair, the opening 20 minutes played out in stagnant fashion. Not until five minutes remained in the first half did Michigan gain separation from Tulsa, riding a 28-20 lead into halftime. That total marked the Golden Hurricane's lowest points scored in a period on the season, in a half that saw them miss all three of their free throw attempts.
After regrouping at the half, Tulsa hurtled out of the locker room on a four-minute 16-6 run to even things at 34 apiece. The Golden Hurricane finally began poking around the middle of the Michigan defense and benefited from a series of layup-and-ones for some much needed inside force. Brandon Swannegan, who had nine points and six rebounds, took things over for a good stretch, while even the Ohio State fans in the building were happy with Michigan's foibles.
Tulsa's Shaquille Harrison played valiantly in the losing effort, contributing a game-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Credit Frank Haith and his guys, though: Tulsa doubled their first-half points in the first 8:40 of the second frame. A slugfest through the middle leg of the period resulted in a 56-55 advantage for the Golden Hurricane, while Michigan -- who shot 38.4 from three point range this season -- struggled Wednesday with 24.0 percent shooting from behind the arc.
With the win, Michigan advances to play No. 6 Notre Dame in the first round on March 18 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Holy Cross def. Southern, 59-55
In the night's first matchup, Holy Cross and Southern traded jabs through a thrilling second half until the Crusaders prevailed down the stretch, 59-55. Holy Cross' wild postseason began as a No. 9 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, where they blasted through four straight road upsets to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2007.
Wednesday's win over Southern notches the Crusaders' first Big Dance victory since 1953.
Southern trailed by as much as 10 points midway though the first half, but the Jaguars fought off a 27-22 deficit early in the second period to lead 39-38 with about nine minutes to go. Eight Holy Cross turnovers in that time burned the Crusaders, who lost any hint of momentum gained in the first half.
But regain their momentum the Crusaders did astride Robert Champion's game-high 19 points off the bench. Champion shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Anthony Thompson contributed 12 of his own.
Holy Cross thus advances to the round of 64 and looks to continue the win streak against No. 1 seed Oregon on Friday, March 18.