DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A jumper with 3.3 seconds left in overtime. A 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer. Michigan needed every last moment to get into the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolverines (22-12) went from one of the last-out teams to the First Four with a pair of dramatic wins in the Big Ten Tournament. They play Tulsa (20-11) in the last of the opening games on Wednesday night.
The winner plays Notre Dame in Brooklyn on Friday night.
Tulsa is hoping to take all of the drama out of Michigan. Zak Irvin hit a jumper with 3.3 seconds left for a 72-70 win over Northwestern in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines then upset top-seeded Indiana 72-69 on Kameron Chatman’s 3 from the right corner at the buzzer in the quarterfinals.
"It’s something I’ll never forget," guard Derrick Walton Jr. said. "But that’s just what March is. Spectacular things happen around this time, and we’re fortunate that we’re on a high end of some of those scenarios."
Tulsa thought it might be headed back to the NIT after losing to Memphis 89-67 in its opening game at the American Athletic Conference tournament. Guard Shaquille Harrison tweeted that he expected to get left out of the NCAA Tournament.
"I felt like we deserved to be here and everything, but how things were looking how people were talking — it was just kind of what my mind was at the time," Harrison said.
Some things to watch in their First Four game:
Tulsa has a big advantage in experience. The Golden Hurricane starts four seniors and a junior, and has three seniors on the bench who play regularly. By contrast, Michigan has only two seniors — Caris Lavert and Spike Albrecht, both of whom are hurt. Lavert announced on March 1 that he’ll sit out the rest of the season because of a leg injury. Albrecht isn’t playing or practicing because of a hip injury.
"We’ve got to use our veteran-laden team as an advantage in this tournament because we have been around a long time," guard James Woodard said. "We’ve seen every situation."
ARC OF TRIUMPH
Michigan ranks 16th nationally and led the Big Ten with 9.6 3-pointers per game. Nineteen times during the season, the Wolverines were in double-digits for 3-pointers, contributing to an offense that averaged 74.3 points per game. Tulsa knows that will be an emphasis on defense.
"We’ve got teams like SMU and Temple (in the American Athletic Conference) that can shoot the ball pretty well, so it kind of compares to Michigan," Harrison said. "So this will be a big challenge."
HOME COURT, OHIO
The Wolverines are playing a three-hour drive from Ann Arbor, so they’ll have a chance to have a lot of fans at the University of Dayton Arena. But they know the crowd likely won’t be in their favor, given that Ohio-Michigan rivalry.
"Hopefully they’re on our side," Irvin said. "But you can definitely see it going the other way with us being in Ohio."
The Golden Hurricane went only 4 of 15 from beyond the arc in that AAC tournament loss to Memphis. Coach Frank Haith watched his senior-driven team panic and take quick shots as the game started slipping away.
"I thought we felt the pressure a little bit of feeling like we had to win one or two games or whatever it was that they thought — what they were hearing — to get into the NCAA Tournament," Haith said. "And it showed on the court."
Tulsa is making its 16th appearance and its second in three years. The Golden Hurricanes’ best run was eight appearances in 10 years from 1994-03. Tulsa has reached the Sweet 16 three times, most recently 2000 when it had its only Elite Eight appearance. Michigan is 44-19 in the tournament, not including years when it had to vacate records due to NCAA violations. The Wolverines had a No. 2 seed in 2014.