Michigan Wolverines vs. N.C. Asheville Bulldogs Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 7th 2023

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The University of Michigan basketball team has a completely different look this season.

The team’s top scorer and rebounder each of the past two seasons, Hunter Dickinson, transferred to Kansas. Guards Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin were selected in the top half of the NBA draft.

Juwan Howard remains the head coach. But he underwent heart surgery in September and he’s still in the recovery phase. Another of his sons, Jace Howard, will miss 4-6 weeks due to a stress fracture in his right knee and tibia.

The revamped Wolverines host UNC Asheville in their season opener on Tuesday.

Michigan tuned up for the game with a 92-45 exhibition victory over Northwood. Senior forward Tray Jackson, a Seton Hall transfer and Detroit native, had a team-high 20 points.

“What I really like is that he has not blinked,” said Phil Martelli, who is running the team in Howard’s absence. “He’s a local kid who’s come back home, so now there’s added pressure, that’s not easy. It’s added pressure, and (Terrance Williams) is ahead of him on the depth chart.”

Williams averaged 6.1 points and 5.9 rebounds last season. Michigan will also rely on its highest returning scorer, Dug McDaniel (8.6 ppg, 3.6 apg), and Tarris Reed Jr., who posted a double-double against Northwood.

The Bulldogs won the Big South last season and lost to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They’re led by forward Drew Pember, the Big South’s Player of the Year. Pember averaged 20.9 points and 9.1 rebounds last season for the Bulldogs, who finished 27-7.

Pember said the 86-53 loss to the Bruins was a motivating factor this offseason.

“That was like eye opening,” Pember said. “The game was just miserable in itself, just because they didn’t miss and I personally got flustered and felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders and all that type of stuff. It wasn’t a great experience, but it was because of how much we learned from it.”

–Field Level Media

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