Record: 20-11 (12-6)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 11 (East)
How they got to the Big Dance
Many are questioning how Tulsa received an at-large bid for the tournament. The Golden Hurricane went 4-4 against teams ranked in between 1 and 50 in the country. They also went an unassuming 2-6 against teams ranked in between 50 and 100, and that’s where a lot of the bewilderment lies. The quality wins that put them in the tournament include Wichita State, Uconn, Houston and Cincinnati. Tulsa’s 12-6 record in the American conference earned them the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament and after a first-round bye, Tulsa was upset by the No. 6 seed Memphis Tigers by 22 points. At that point, many people ruled them out of the tournament, but here they are. The Golden Hurricane is going back to the Big Dance after missing the cut last year.
Why they’re a legitimate contender
Tulsa is going to head into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder. Nobody thinks they deserve a spot so they’re out to show everyone that it wasn’t a mistake. If being in the NCAA tournament isn’t enough motivation, the Golden Hurricanes have just a little bit more. Although Tulsa may have gone 6-10 against Top 100 teams, they do have experience playing against tournament caliber competition. In the tournament, anything is possible. So, look to see if Tulsa can flip the switch to the on position. This could very well happen because of how well Tulsa controls the ball. They only cough up the ball 10.7 times per game, which is 28th best in the nation. On the opposite end of the court, they force the 49th most turnovers in the country. If Tulsa can turn it on when it really matters, the Golden Hurricanes can take the tournament by storm.
Why they aren’t a legitimate contender
Tulsa beat every team they hypothetically should have beaten. However, they didn’t get the job done against the teams they could have beaten. In the games against Top 100 competition, the Golden Hurricanes went 6-10. So, they only won 37.5% of games against potential tournament teams. If this doesn’t indicate what’s going to happen to Tulsa, I don’t know what does. Maybe they’ll win their First Four matchup, but a legitimate contender? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In addition to the mere fact that they did not play well against tournament teams, Tulsa makes less than one-third of their shots from three-point range. Tulsa also shoots under 70 percent from the free throw line. Both of these areas will not give Tulsa the title of a “legitimate contender.” The Golden Hurricanes have not won a tournament game since 2003, and that streak has a very good chance of being extending this year.
Player to watch- G Shaquille Harrison
The 6-foot-4 senior guard doesn’t lead the Golden Hurricanes in points, but he leads them in rebounds, assists and steals, making him the best all-around player on the team. He averages 14.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game. In the American conference championship, Harrison showed his ability to get to the free-throw line, where he made 7 of his 11 attempts. Unfortunately, he had a poor shooting day, only making 4 of 14 shot attempts. But, if Harrison improves that going into the tournament, he will be an intricate part of any success Tulsa has. Look for Harrison to be a key part both offensively and defensively for the Golden
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