Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 14, 2016
Michigan?s bubble didn?t burst. It is back in the Big Dance-barely-after a one-year absence with its lowest seed ever at No. 11. The Wolverines have enjoyed a lot of success in recent years under John Beilein, playing in the national championship game in 2013 and the regional finals in 2014 before missing the tourney last season.
The fact Michigan has made it this far is impressive when you consider it played most of the season without its best player in Caris LeVert (foot), while gutty guard Spike Albrecht also was out with injury. Still, the Wolverines marched on and likely cemented a bid by knocking off Big Ten tourney No. 1 seed Indiana last week.
Get my Michigan NCAA tourney capsule below.
No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tulsa, Wednesday, Dayton, Ohio
John Beilein NCAA record: 16-9, reached Final Four in 2013
Last tourney appearance: 2014, lost to Kentucky in regional final
How I see it going: Pundits spent Sunday night eviscerating Tulsa for its inclusion in the field, as the Golden Hurricanes were the last team under the velvet rope and have a dubious resume. Regardless, Tulsa is here playing the Wolverines in a play-in game. And they are very beatable, as they showed in falling to Memphis two times recently. A win over Tulsa would set up Michigan with a tilt vs. No. 6 Notre Dame in Brooklyn on Friday. And this is an Irish club that lost to the likes of Florida State and Georgia Tech while get smoked by North Carolina in the ACC tourney. Win that it's likely John Beilein and company face his old school, No. 3 West Virginia And, that?s exactly where Michigan?s party will end.
Key player: Duncan Robinson. The lithe 6-8 Robinson is a marksman with few peers, hitting 90-of-200 from beyond the arc after transferring from Division III Williams College. Connecting from long range is key for Beilein?s offense to work. (It also helps that this team limits turnovers.) That means Robinson must be on his game after scoring just three points the last time we saw the sophomore in a loss to Purdue in the Big Ten tourney. Michigan is reliant on the three, having made a school-record 326 on 38.4 percent shooting this season, Tulsa shoots 32.9 percent from the arc.
Key number: -1, which is Michigan?s rebounding margin. This isn?t a physical team, and it lacks a collection of tough big men. What?s it mean? This club can be pushed around, as it was by Purdue in the Big Ten tourney. If the Wolverines shots aren?t falling and they are forced to rebound to win, they'll be in peril.
Know Tulsa: The presence of Tulsa still has many scratching their head. A sampling: ESPN's Joe Lunardi wrote after the bracket was revealed that the Golden Hurricanes' inclusion was "indefensible by every known standard." Regardless, Frank Haith-who left messes at Miami (Fla.) and Missouri, always staying a step ahead of the NCAA posse-has a veteran squad that features seven seniors in its nine-man rotation. Tulsa thrives on creating turnovers, controlling the ball and scoring. The Golden Hurricane ranks 10th in the nation in turnover margin (3.5), 53rd in forced turnovers (14.4) and averages 74.0 points. Fun fact: Haith?s No. 2 seed Missouri team was toppled in the first round of the 2012 tourney by No. 15 Norfolk State in one of the biggest upsets in Big Dance annals.