DES MOINES, IA – The Montana Grizzlies meet the Michigan Wolverines in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Tipoff is set for 7:20 Mountain Time in Wells Fargo Arena, and the game will air nationally on TNT. This time it’s a 2-15 match up in the bracket. Here are some numbers to keep in mind for the showdown.
61-47 – The final score of last year’s game, won by then No. 3-seed Michigan. Montana jumped out to a 10-0 lead by the first timeout. But the Grizzlies’ offense went through two long scoring droughts, one lasted 9:56, nearly half of the second half.
58.6 – Points per game given up by the Michigan defense. The mark is the second lowest in the country, behind only top-seed Virginia. Head coach John Beilein is known for his efficient offensive teams, but his last two Michigan squads have thrived on being stingy. The Wolverines have held teams in the 40s or lower six times this season.
38% – Montana’s 3-point shooting percentage this season, which ranks 30th best in the country. Last year, the Grizzlies shot only 34 percent from deep and struggled mightily against the Wolverines, making only 3 of 15 for 20 percent. Beilein commented on Wednesday how Montana’s lineup, with five 3-point shooters on the floor at most times, would give a problem to many power conference teams.
5-1 – Montana seniors versus Michigan seniors. Montana’s veteran list includes forward Jamar Akoh, who won’t play because of injury, and Donaven Dorsey, who most likely will return next year because he sat out last season due to injury (the Grizzlies believe he will receive a medical redshirt from the NCAA). The Griz clearly have a more experienced group. Michigan’s lone senior, guard Charles Matthews, led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds in last year’s meeting. But after Matthews, the Wolverines rely on sophomores and juniors, as well as freshman star Ignas Brazdeikis.
8.8 – Michigan’s average turnovers per game, the lowest mark in the country. Point guard Zavier Simpson runs the Wolverines attack with a 3.56-1 assist to turnover ratio. Griz head coach Travis DeCuire said his team needs to play great, because the Wolverines won’t beat themselves.
7’1 – The height of Michigan starting center Jon Teske. Outside of point guard, the Wolverines will have a size advantage at every position. One of the keys will be if Michigan uses its size to dominate, or if Montana’s spread-it-out style makes for a tough matchup for the Wolverines’ biggest players.
8 – The number of times a 15-seed has beaten a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Middle Tennessee did it most recently, beating Michigan State in 2016. Michigan’s worst first-round upset loss came as a No. 4-seed against No. 13-seed Ohio in 2012. But as Griz senior forward Bobby Moorehead said in Wednesday’s press conference, “You pretty much know there are going to be upsets every year, so why not us?”