First Four on Sling: Holy Cross Crusaders at Southern Jaguars, Michigan Wolverines vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
Crusaders @ Jaguars (6:40pm ET Wednesday, truTV)
The Holy Cross Crusaders had a miserable season, going 14-19 overall and just 5-13 in Patriot Conference play. But when the chips were down, the Crusaders stepped up, sweeping four conference tourney games, including wins over the number one, two and four-seeded teams. In the final against Lehigh, the Crusaders were outrebounded 34-23, but Lehigh hit just 38% from the floor. This is Holy Cross’ first NCAA appearance since 2007 and their 13th overall. They’ve gone 7-12 in tournament play and won it all in 1947.
Southern’s season had turned into something of a dumpster fire as they lost four of their last five regular season games, dragging their record down to 19-12. But they got their mojo back in time for the SWAC championship, winning it all with a 54-53 victory over Jackson State, in which the Jaguars outshot their opponents 32% to 26% – talk about some ugly ball. This is Southern’s ninth trip to the dance (their first since 2013) when they earned their only win against eight losses.
The winner goes on the be a 16 seed against Oregon in the first round of the West Regional.
Wolverines @ Golden Hurricanes (9pm ET Wednesday, truTV)
The Michigan Wolverines were the victims of a brutally tough schedule as 9 of their 12 losses were against teams that finished the season ranked in the top 25. But they still managed to finish the season 22-12, despite talented senior guard Caris LeVert (16.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.9 apg) being lost to injury in February for the second year in a row. Michigan lost 76-59 to Purdue in the conference semis on Saturday. This is the 25th time Michigan has made the NCAA tourney, the first since 2014. They’ve gone 51-24 overall, making four Final Fours and winning the title in 1989.
Led by the senior guard duo of James Woodard (15.6ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.4 apg) and Shaquille Harrison (14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.1 apg), Tulsa went 20-11, 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. But they suffered an 89-67 drubbing in the first round in the conference tournament as Harrison and Woodard combined to shoot seven of 22 with six turnovers. This is Tusa’s 16th visit to the tournament, where they’ve gone 12-15.
The winner will be an 11 seed, facing Notre Dame Thursday in the opening round of the East Regional.