It’s no secret the Montana Grizzlies had a wonderful season. Travis DeCuire has built a winner in the Big Sky, leading Montana to double-digit conference wins in each of his four seasons. Though this Montana squad has a bright future and is making waves in the plain states, the question still remains: Do the Grizzlies have any chance at a first-round win over 3 seed Michigan?
The Grizzlies do have one win against the Power 5, but it was against Pitt...so that doesn’t even really count. More notable is that Montana struggled most recently in the Big Sky Tournament against a fine North Dakota team and one-man squad in Eastern Washington.
However, the Grizzlies made it to the Big Dance for a reason. Montana is a gritty team that works for every bucket and defensive stop. In fact, the Grizzlies are 21st in the nation in steal percentage and 33rd in offensive rebounding.
The Grizzlies are led by a three-headed machine of junior guards Ahmaad Rorie, Michael Oguine and Jamar Akoh. Both Rorie and Akoh have experience playing in different conferences, Rorie transferred from Oregon and Akoh from Cal State Fullerton.
To understand Ahmaad Rorie’s potential, look no further than this video.
Has anyone checked on this man? #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/CKmkoUL1rv— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 10, 2018
Rorie has serious handles and is likely the most balanced player on the roster, averaging 17.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He also shoots nearly 88 percent from the line. Rorie’s counterpart is none other than Oguine. He pitched in 63 points in three games in the Big Sky Tournament and is known to fight bigger guys on the glass even though he is just 6’2. Oguine is also good from beyond the arc, shooting 36 percent from three.
But Montana’s X-factor is Akoh. He has nine double-doubles so far this year and has the 40th-lowest turnover rate nationally. He also shoots extremely well for a big man at 58 percent from the field.
The key role players for the Grizzlies are Sayeed Pridgett and Bobby Moorehead. Both have double-double potential as well and will be needed if Akoh isn’t on point.
Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the country right now, even with that week-long layoff. The Wolverines have won their last nine games and really look to have hit their stride beating top-notch teams like Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan State. With one of the deepest and most athletic squads in all of college basketball, Montana is going to need a miracle to pull this one off.