Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Tony Paul of The Detroit News breaks down Montana, Michigan’s first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

Nickname: Grizzlies

Location: Missoula, Mont.

Conference: Big Sky

Record: 26-8, 16-4

Coach: Travis DeCuire (5th season; 109-57)

How they got in: Automatic bid by winning Big Sky tournament

Five Montana facts

►This an absolute rarity — a rematch in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. These two teams met one year ago, with Michigan winning, 61-47, in Wichita, Kan., en route to its run all the way to the national championship game. That was the only previous meeting between the schools. Montana is 2-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, with first-round wins in 2006 (Nevada) and 1975 (Utah State).

►Montana has four players who average double-digit points, including redshirt senior forward Jamar Akoh (15.5), redshirt senior guard Ahmaad Rorie (15.1), junior guard Sayeed Pridgett (15.0) and senior guard Michael Oguine (13.2). Akoh also averages 8.7 rebounds, but he's been out more than a month with a wrist injury.

 

►Montana is ranked No. 124 in the NET rankings, and No. 137 in KenPom. It took advantage of a weak Big Sky Conference that is among the lowest-ranked conferences by NET, even below the Horizon League.

►The Grizzlies have three players who shoot quite efficiently from 3-point range, including redshirt senior guard Donaven Dorsey (45.3 percent), who recently was moved out of the starting lineup and excelled off the bench, and redshirt junior guard Kendal Manual (43.2).

►DeCuire finished his playing career at Montana, after starting at Chaminade. He's topped 20 wins in four of his five seasons.

Two bonus facts

►Montana's student-acceptance rate is 93 percent, compared to Michigan's 29 percent. (Since folks on Twitter asked, Michigan State's is 66.3.)

►Notable alumni include Academy Award-winning actor J.K. Simmons, a Grosse Pointe native and avid Detroit Tigers fan; late actor Carroll O'Connor of Archie Bunker and "All in the Family" fame; and Marty Mornhinweg, the former Detroit Lions head coach of "take the wind" fame.

West Region

NO. 2 MICHIGAN VS. NO. 15 MONTANA

When: Thursday, 9:20 p.m. 

Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa

TV/radio: TNT/950

Records: Michigan 28-6, Montana 26-8

Next up: Winner faces winner between No. 7 Nevada and No. 10 Florida

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE