A look at the Montana Grizzlies ahead of NCAA opener against Michigan

Grizzlies looking forward to NCAA rematch

Head coach Travis DeCuire of the Montana Grizzlies (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Head coach Travis DeCuire of the Montana Grizzlies (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich – The 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket has been released and the Michigan Wolverines will open up with the Montana Grizzlies for the second straight year.

After falling short to the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday, the Wolverines received a 2-seed heading into Thursday's matchup with the 15-seed Grizzlies.

Who are the Montana Grizzlies?

The Montana Grizzlies are heading into the matchup with the momentum of a 26-8 record and a Big Sky Conference championship, winning 16 of their last 18 games this season. The Grizzlies have won 52 games over their last two seasons, their best run in program history.

Players to watch:

  • F Jamar Akoh, Senior
  • G Ahmaad Rorie, Senior
  • G Sayeed Pridgett, Junior
  • G Michael Oguine, Senior

The Grizzlies have four players averaging double digit scoring this season, with senior Jamar Akoh leading the team with 15.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game despite only playing 15 games this season with injuries to his shooting arm and knee. 

The guards are led by seniors Ahmaad Rorie (15.1 PTS, 4.1 REB, 4 AST), Michael Oguine (13.2 PTS, 5.4 REB, 1.9 AST), and junior Sayeed Pridgett (15 PTS, 5 REB, 2.3 AST)

The Grizzles are surprised that they have been matched once again with the Wolverines but is looking forward to the rematch.

"I'm shocked a little bit that they would match the same two teams," said Montana coach Travis DeCuire to reporters. "Typically, they'd change it. But it is what it is. I think there's a lot for us to look forward to. Our guys will be excited for the rematch."

Last year's Grizzlies entered the tournament coming off a 26-8 record and a Big Sky Conference title with roughly the same starters as this year. Guard Ahmaad Rorie was leading the Grizzlies with 17.1 and 3.1 assists per game while forward Jamar Akoh was averaging 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds a game.

Last year's matchup

In last year's matchup, Montana began the game with a 10-0 run before the Wolverines began to score. Michigan took the lead last year with four minutes left in the first half on a three pointer by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and never gave it up, winning the game 61-47. Charles Matthews led the Wolverines with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds.

The rematch between these two teams will be Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 9:20 p.m.