The third-ranked Michigan Wolverines will play their first true road game of the season, as they pay a visit to the Bradley Braves for a non-conference affair on Saturday afternoon.
Off to its best start under current head coach John Beilein, Michigan is 6-0 for the first time since 2006-07. The Wolverines are coming off a 79-72 triumph over No. 18 NC State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and they also have quality wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas State -- both of those coming inside New York's famed Madison Square Garden as they won the NIT Season Tip-Off. Michigan opens Big Ten Conference play at Northwestern on Jan. 3, 2013.
Bradley is a stellar 5-1 on the young season, although this bout represents the team's toughest test to date. The Braves, who are hosting a top-three team for the first time in Carver Arena (since 1982), have logged wins over Eastern Illinois, Texas-Pan American, IUPUI, Tennessee-Martin and Central Michigan, with its lone loss coming at South Florida. Bradley is 6-22 all-time against teams ranked as high as third in the country, with all six wins coming at home.
Michigan has won five of the previous six matchups with Bradley, and the Braves' victory came in the only other meeting in Peoria, 74-67, on Dec. 8, 1997.
Michigan has been a force at both ends of the court this season, as the team averages 80.8 ppg in hitting 52.9 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 42.7 percent showing from three-point range, while the opposition connects on 39.9 percent of its total shots, with just 29.8 percent of their long-range tries being successful, and all of it leading to a mere 59.0 ppg. The Wolverines boast four double-digit scorers in the form of Tim Hardaway, Jr. (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Trey Burke (16.7 ppg, 7.5 apg), Nic Stauskas (13.0 ppg) and Glenn Robinson III (12.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg). UM is +10.7 in rebounding margin for the year, but the team amassed just 25 boards compared to 31 for the visiting Wolfpack the last time out. Stauskas scored a career-high 20 points, Burke notched a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists, Hardaway, Jr. finished with 16 points and Robinson III tacked on 11 to help the Maize and Blue claim the seven-point win. Both teams shot the ball well, with NC State hitting 57.1 percent of its field goal attempts and Michigan an even 50 percent. A 16-6 edge in points from the foul line helped the Wolverines, as did the fact that they committed fewer than half of the total number of turnovers the Pack had (6-13).
Bradley hasn't had much trouble putting points on the scoreboard through the first few weeks of the season, using a balanced attack (five guys average between 10.0 and 13.2 ppg) to generate 76.3 ppg. The Braves knock down 47.1 percent of their total shots, but the three-pointer has given them all kinds of trouble with only 26.4 percent of their tries finding the bottom of the net. Defensively, BU allows 65.0 ppg on typical shooting outputs of only 39.0 percent overall and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. Foes are guilty of 16.2 turnovers per outing, and the Braves are coming off a win over Central Michigan in which the Chippewas committed 18 miscues. Tyshon Pickett and Jordan Prosser scored 17 points apiece, while season scoring leader Walt Lemon, Jr. tallied 14 points with five assists, Dyricus Simms-Edwards also logging 14 points with four helpers, an Jake Eastman tacking on 12 points in hitting both of the team's three-pointers in the game. Bradley missed 11 long- range attempts, but shot 53.7 percent from the floor overall while holding CMU to just 35.6 percent.