|WHAT||Michigan at Bradley|
|WHERE||Carver Arena, Peoria, Illinois|
|WHEN||4 PM Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan –15 (Kenpom)|
Bradley is, shall we say, a step down in competition from NC State; the Braves finished 7-25 last year, their 2-16 conference record good for last in the Missouri Valley Conference. Returning four starters this season, they should be improved. They should also lose to Michigan, but I probably didn't need to tell you that.
While the talent level isn't tournament-quality (pick a tournament, really), Bradley posts a pretty stellar roster of names. To wit:
- Starting point guard and leading scorer Walt Lemon Jr.
- Starting guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards
- Starting forwards Tyshon Pickett and Will Egolf
- Freshman guard Ka'Darryl Bell
- And the kicker, sophomore forward Shayok Shayok
Shayok Shayok, yo. He's no Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, but I'll take it.
While Lemon leads Bradley in scoring, his shooting numbers (51.0 2P%, 18.8 3P%) are down significantly from last season (52.1 2P%, 34.5 3P%) as he's having difficulty honing in from the outside. He's also the team's top distributor, but has had problems with turnovers both last year (24.8% TO rate) and this year (22.3%).
Simms-Edwards is a bit undersized for a 2/3 at 6'3", 200, but Michigan's wings will have to be careful on the drive—Simms-Edwards has 17 steals in just six games. Bradley started a third guard, Jalen Crawford, in their most recent game against Central Michigan; he's just 6'2", 195, so both Tim Hardaway and Nik Stauskas will enjoy a significant size advantage when the Braves go man-to-man. Crawford's played a hair less than half of the available minutes this season, though, so we'll see how often coach Geno Ford goes to this lineup—probably not often considering Michigan's size.
If Ford doesn't start Crawford, he'll put 6'5" senior Jake Eastman at the three; he's shooting a torrid 65.6% inside the arc last year but that's well out of line from his 44.4% mark last year. Otherwise, nothing he does really jumps off the stats page.
The team's best player is probably junior forward Tyshon Pickett, one of only two players on the team to take more than 40% of his shots at the rim; he converts his two-pointers at a 54.5% clip and is solid on the boards, especially on the offensive end. 6'9" center Will Egolf is very good on the defensive glass (22.2 DR%) but nearly invisible as an offensive rebounder (4.7%) due to the fact that he's mostly a spot-up shooter—over 75% of his shots are jumpers.
In fact, much of this game will take place on the perimeter on both ends of the floor. Bradley takes only 30% of their shots at the rim, while opponents are also staying mostly on the outside—probably because the Braves are currently ceding a 37.6 3P% while holding opponents to just 39.8% inside the arc. Michigan should be able to fare better from two than Bradley's previous opponents; this also could be a game where they're content to make it rain.
Bradley is 5-1 on the year, but they've only played one game against a top-200 team by KenPom standards: #101 South Florida, which beat them by 19. They do share a common opponent with Michigan: the Braves defeated IUPUI, a team the Wolverines pounded by 37 at Crisler, by seven points, albeit on the road. Their other wins came against such luminaries as Central, Tennessee Martin, Texas Pan American, and Eastern Illinois.
Here are the four factors numbers from both last and this year:
|Off. 11-12||Off. 12-13||Def. 11-12||Def. 12-13|
|eFG%||44.4 (321)||50.3 (112)||51.4 (265)||46.0 (109)|
|Turnover %||20.3 (174)||16.6 (24)||19.2 (224)||23.3 (85)|
|Off. Reb %||26.1 (318)||34.0 (124)||30.3 (140)||32.0 (166)|
|FTA/FGA||36.3 (171)||35.4 (173)||32.3 (75)||33.3 (131)|
This year's numbers are likely inflated by the soft schedule. Last year's numbers are bad, mmmkay? If a spot-up shooting squad can't really shoot, that's a problem.
Stop Pickett. Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary both had trouble with NC State's bigs around the basket; while Pickett isn't an NBA talent like C.J. Leslie, he's a competent offensive player and the biggest threat on this Bradley team. If GRIII and McGary can't slow him down, it's time to be concerned about Michigan's interior defense moving forward. More likely, they had a rough outing against a very talented team, and a power forward who's three inches shorter than Leslie and not a freak athlete should pose less of a problem.
Don't settle. Given Bradley's generosity in ceding the three this year, Michigan could become content to launch bombs without really attacking the basket. While Pickett and Egolf are both good shot-blockers, however, they're 6'6" and 6'9"—not the most intimidating front line that the Wolverines have come across. Hardaway, especially, needs to continue to go at the tin instead of settling for long jumpers, which he can get whenever he wants against an undersized backcourt anyway.
Keep doing what you've been doing. I mean, yeah.
Shayok Shayok! Likely won't contribute much. Just wanted to take the chance to type his name again. Though he has hit all three of his shots this year, so... Shayok Shayok!
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 15