Tulsa seniors (from left) Shaq Harrison, James Woodard, Rashad Ray, D’Andre Wright and five others will end their college basketball careers in the NCAA Tournament. TU opens Tuesday against Michigan in Dayton.
The Oklahoma Sooners got the No. 2 seed and the spot in Oklahoma City that they and everyone else expected.
But the Tulsa Golden Hurricane might have been the biggest shock of Selection Sunday when the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced and TU was in the field as an 11-seed against Michigan in a First Four (play-in) game Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
TU (20-11) and Michigan (22-12) are both 11-seeds. The winner advances to a first-round game against 6-seed Notre Dame in Brooklyn on Friday.
It was widely presumed that Tulsa, in its second season under coach Frank Haith, would be headed back to the NIT after finishing tied for third in the American Athletic Conference standings and then losing their first-round AAC Tournament game 89-67 to Memphis. According to most bracket projections, TU was on the bubble going into the Orlando event.
Lots of other teams are spending Sunday night making their case in lieu of Tulsa, but on Sunday’s selection show, OU athletic director and selection committee chairman Joe Castiglione explained why TU got in.
“Only one top-50 win for South Carolina,” Castiglione said before co-host Doug Gottlieb interrupted, reminding him the Gamecocks win was at Texas A&M. “And Tulsa’s was at SMU,” Castiglione continued. This is a case of the misfortune of one or two schools have opened the door for a couple of teams to get in that probably wouldn’t have gotten in otherwise.”
OU (25-7) got everything it expected as a 2-seed in OKC. After falling to West Virginia 69-67 in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals on Friday in Kansas City, the Sooners play Cal State Bakersfield (24-8) on Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
If the Sooners beat Bakersfield, they play the winner of the Oregon State-Virginia Commonwealth game Sunday.