|Who: Bryant (1-9) at Michigan (9-2).|
|Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI|
|When: Thursday, December 23rd, 6:00 ET|
|Radio: MGoBlue / WWWW 102.9 FM/Sirius 91/XM 196|
Bryant will be the seventh opponent that Michigan has played outside of Ken Pomeroy’s top 100. It will also be the last. Bryant has the same number of wins (1) as Michigan’s next opponent, Purdue, has losses. In short, this is the last tune up before a grueling conference schedule that will start fast and never really slow down. The average Pomeroy ranking of Michigan’s next 19 opponents is 40, a mark that only one of Michigan’s first 12 opponents surpassed.
According to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, Bryant was the second worst team in Division I last year. They were also one of just two teams to record just a single win last season. The Bulldogs are a little better this year, with a win over a solid Iona squad, but not by much. Bryant is still the worst Division I team that Michigan has faced this year and they have just a 1-9 record.
The Bulldogs don’t do many things very well but they are an above average three point shooting team as they shoot 37% from behind the arc. The problem for Bryant fans is that the Bulldogs two point shooting percentage is just 6% higher at 43%. Bryant rarely trips to the free throw line (24% FTA/FGA) and the rest of their offensive production is generally below average across the board.
While the Bulldog offense isn’t great, their defense is even worse. Bryant has held just one opponent under a point per possession and they rank 329th in KenPom’s defensive ratings. Bryant’s opponents are shooting the lights out with an effective field goal percentage of 58% — 57% on twos and 41% on threes. The rest of the Bulldogs’ defensive profile is relatively nondescript but also irrelevant given the fact that so many teams routinely have season-high shooting performances versus Bryant.
Frankie Dobbs and Alex Francis (Source: Bryant Athletics)
Personnel wise, the guy to watch is Frankie Dobbs, the 6-foot-3 sophomore is shooting 44% from three point range and scoring 15 points per game. He does a good job of distributing the ball, with 5 assists per game, but the Ohio native turns it over almost five times per game. 6-foot-6 freshman Alex Francis is Bryant’s tallest starter but he’s an inefficient scorer inside and shoots almost the same percentage, 46%, from both two point range and the free throw line. 6-foot-5 senior Cecil Gresham is one of the few players on the Bryant roster that doesn’t turn the ball over at an exceptionally high rate and he’s also a an above average three point shooter (39%) that averages 13 points per game. The Bulldogs’ eight man rotation is rounded out by five other players that average 3 to 6 points and 2 to 4 rebounds per game.
Given that only one player on the Bryant roster shoots over 47% from two point range, it should come as no surprise that Bryant attempts 41% of their shots from three point range. The Bulldogs don’t really have a second option if their three point shots aren’t falling. Michigan has the eighth best three point defense in the country which certainly bodes well for another solid performance from the Michigan defense.
This is a game that Michigan should win easily, despite their tendency to play down to weaker competition this season. Pomeroy gives Michigan a 99% chance at victory and projects a score of 75-49. It’s tough to disagree with him as this one looks to be about as lopsided as it gets. There are obviously distractions due to the holiday season and a huge game with Purdue looming large in the future. Personally, I’m just glad that we are entering conference play and there will be more interesting previews to write going forward.