|Who: Michigan (2-0) vs. Gardner-Webb (3-1)|
|Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI|
|When: Sunday, November 21st, 2:00PM|
|TV: BigTenNetwork.com ($)|
|Radio: MGoBlue, 1050 AM/950 AM/Sirius Ch. 127|
After another stifling defensive performance against seemingly subpar competition, Michigan welcomes Gardner-Webb into the friendly confines of Crisler Arena. True college hoops junkies will remember the Runnin Bulldogs for their 2007 upset of Kentucky in the 2K Sports Classic. The problem with high profile upsets in November is that they don’t always stand for much. Fast forward to 2010 and Gardner-Webb has fallen on tough times, finishing second to last in the Big South last season despite one of the most experienced rosters in the conference.
This season, they return just 41-percent of the minutes from last season’s team and are predicted to finish dead last in the Big South. Early returns have been slightly encouraging, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs knocked off Charlotte on the road. However, that win might not mean much after George Mason rolled Charlotte by 22 points last night in the Charleston Classic.
6-foot-4 senior Jonathan Moore is the Bulldogs’ best returning player, averaging 18.5 points and 7 rebounds in his first four games while shooting 51% from the field and a very impressive 44% from three point range on 25 attempts. 6-foot-6 215lb sophomore forward Stefon Johnson is the main low post scoring threat and second leading scorer for the Bulldogs, averaging just under 11 points per game.
Gardner-Webb lacks size up front where their only player over 6-foot-7 is 6-foot-10 freshman Michael Byron, who averages 5 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game (with one start). Joshua Henley is only 6-foot-3 but the 215 pound guard is a rebounding machine, averaging almost 10 rebounds per game. Two more guards, Laron Buggs and Luke Davis, round out the core of the Gardner-Webb rotation.
As you would expect with such a guard centric roster, Gardner-Webb attempts 37% of their field goals from outside the arc. The more surprising statistic for the Bulldogs offense is that they have done a very good job on the offensive glass, rebounding 38% of their missed shots this season. Games versus Virginia Intermont and Mary Washington have obviously skewed some of the statistics at this point, especially on defense. Virginia Intermont and Mary Washington averaged .72 points per possession while Florida State and Charlotte combined to average a significantly better, but still respectable, 1.03 points per trip. Based on limited sample size I’d say that Gardner-Webb’s defense isn’t terrible but it shouldn’t pose Michigan any major problems.
Pomeroy projects Michigan by twenty in a 74-54 game. I’ll go with Michigan 70, Gardner-Webb 52 in a 66 possession game. Michigan has looked better each time out and it would be encouraging to see them keep that trend alive with #10 Syracuse looming large next Friday. Three random predictions:
- Blake McLimans hits his first three point shot.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. stays out of foul trouble and bounces back with 15+ points.
- Michigan’s defense holds a third straight opponent below .80 points per possession, a feat last year’s squad never accomplished.