Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 16 points a piece while Duncan Robinson chipped in with 13 points, 11 boards and four assists as the Wolverines advanced into the Field of 64 with a 67-62 win over Tulsa in the First Four.
Irvin hit the biggest shot of the night, drilling a three with 52.5 seconds left that put the Wolverines ahead, 62-60. Tulsa’s Pat Birt would miss a driving layup on the ensuing possession and the Wolverines would ice the game from the free throw line.
No. 11 seed Michigan advances to take on No. 6 Notre Dame in the official first round of the tournament, and if there is anything that you are going to take out of this game, from Michigan’s stand point, it’s the emergence of Moritz Wagner in the front court. Wagner had eight boards and four blocks on Wednesday night, both of which are career-highs for the freshman. The 22 minutes he played was the most he’s seen in a game since December. In fact, during the last month of the season, Wagner played a total of just 19 minutes.
But he’s seen a bigger role since the start of the Big Ten tournament as head coach John Beilein continues to search for some kind of consistent post production. Who knows if it will be Wagner, but we’ve seen freshman bigs go bonkers during a deep tournament run for Beilein before — Mitch McGary, anyone? He’s going to see someone to step up, because dealing with Zach Auguste and Bonzie Colson is not an easy task.
And just a quick pro-tip: I think that we all recognized that Tulsa didn’t belong in the NCAA tournament. Their inclusion was baffling. But please, don’e be the guy that says this loss proves Tulsa didn’t belong. If Birt’s layup drops in instead of bouncing out of the rim, then Tulsa would have been getting the last shot of regulation.
Tulsa very much had a chance to win this thing.
And if they had won, it would not have proved that they deserved to get in.
It doesn’t work that way.
Tulsa proved they didn’t deserve to be in the tournament by the way they played for the last four months, regardless of what the committee pulled.