Michigan Wolverines (0-0) vs UNC Asheville Bulldogs (0-0)
2023-11-07 20:30:00 EDT
The Line: Betting Odds: Michigan Wolverines -- Over/Under:
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The Michigan Wolverines gear up to welcome the UNC Asheville Bulldogs to the Crisler Center in a David vs. Goliath season opener on November 7. Michigan, looking to erase the bitter aftertaste of narrow losses, is heavily favored on opening night. The Bulldogs, undaunted by their underdog status, are set to bring the fight to Wolverines.
Primed for Big South Dominance
Coming off a historic 27-win campaign, the UNC Asheville Bulldogs have earned the pole position in the Big South Conference’s preseason poll, a testament to their dominance on the hardwood. Last season’s record-setting run featured a 16-2 conference record, with the Bulldogs clinching the title and setting the stage for an encore. Their roster boasts the return of four starters, including the dynamic Drew Pember, who led with an impressive 20.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, alongside the deft playmaking of Caleb Burgess, who averaged 4.2 assists. This veteran presence is poised to steer Asheville back to the summit of the Big South.
Despite the departure of key players, Asheville’s cohesion remains unshaken. The Bulldogs compensated with new additions, enhancing their roster depth and maintaining a competitive edge. Last season, they demonstrated offensive prowess by scoring an average of 75 points per game while shooting 47.7% from the field. Conversely, their defense was just as imposing, limiting opponents to a field goal percentage of 39.0% and allowing an average of just 64 points per game. This balance of sharpshooting and ironclad defense makes the Bulldogs a formidable opponent for any challenger.
Push Forward and Win
The Michigan Wolverines face a pivotal season under the guidance of Juwan Howard. After a 18-16 finish and an 11-9 conference record, they’re hitting the hardwood sans their marquee center, Hunter Dickinson, who’s taken his talents to Kansas. With the departure of first-round NBA draft picks Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin, the Wolverines lost a significant chunk of firepower, with the trio contributing nearly 60% of the team’s scoring and rebounding.
Yet, the Wolverines aren’t retreating; they’re reloading. Point guard Dug McDaniel is poised to pivot from a relief role to a leadership one, following his unexpected thrust into the limelight last season. Tarris Reed’s minutes as Dickinson’s understudy could translate into a breakout year, while Jaelin Llewellyn’s return from injury adds a seasoned edge to the roster. The transfer market has brought in a potential game-changer in Olivier Nkamhoua, a versatile forward from Tennessee, whose ability to score from anywhere could be a linchpin for Michigan’s offense.
The newcomer spotlight shines on George Washington III, a former Ohio State commit, who’s expected to bolster the Wolverines’ bench strength. His integration alongside stalwarts like McDaniel and Llewellyn could well dictate the tempo for Michigan’s season.
Michigan’s upcoming campaign teeters on a fine edge, as potential exists, with transfers ready to step up and injured players returning. If McDaniel and Reed can improve their game and Nkamhoua fits into the Wolverines’ puzzle, this team could claw its way into the NCAA tournament.
David’s Pick – UNC Asheville Bulldogs
UNC Asheville Bulldogs are the team to bet on in the Big South Conference. Their phenomenal 27-win season was not a one-off result. With four starters back on the court, including the high-flying Drew Pember, who scored 20.9 points and grabbed 9.1 rebounds a game, Asheville’s firepower remains red-hot. Coupled with Caleb Burgess’ court vision, dishing out 4.2 assists per game, they’ve got the muscle to bulldoze the opposition. Asheville’s depth is rock-solid, fortified with transfers and recruits that ensure they stay ahead of the curve. They’ve got a dual-threat offense that dominates the scoring charts and a defense that suffocates opponents, holding them to a paltry 39.0% field goal percentage. With a battle-hardened lineup and a championship DNA, they’re ready to rule the roost once again. However, it will be a struggle on Tuesday against a rebuilt Michigan squad that lost 60% of its scoring and rebounding when three players departed. I like the Wolverines to win at home but the Bulldogs to cover the spread.