#878 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heelsvs.#877 Butler University Bulldogs
Written by David Hess
Butler Bulldogs (25-8 SU, 19-12-0 ATS, 14-15-2 OU) vs North Carolina Tar Heels (29-7 SU, 18-15-2 ATS, 13-20-1 OU)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, March 24, 2017
Where: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
Lines: North Carolina -7
Tonight, the Big East will grapple with the ACC as the 4th seeded Butler Bulldogs duke it out with the number one seeded North Carolina Tar Heels at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs come in off a 74-65 win over Middle Tennessee and they have now won six of their last eight games, while the Tar Heels are off a 72-65 win over Arkansas and they have now won eight of their last 10 games.
Middle Tennessee pulled one of the bigger upsets of round one as they knocked off 5th seeded Minnesota by a score of 81-72. Many then felt that they had a shot of knocking off the Butler Bulldogs in the next game, but the clock struck midnight for Cinderella as the Bulldogs knocked them off by a score of 74-65. Butler now looks to play the role of Cinderella as they will be facing top-seeded North Carolina with a shot at moving on to the Elite Eight. The Bulldogs have now won six of their last eight games and they have really been led by their defense of late as they have allowed just 66.1 ppg in their last seven games. They will need that defense to really step up here as they are facing one of the best offensive teams in the nation. The offense has been solid of late as they have averaged 78.3 ppg in their last eight games. The offense will need to step up also as the Heels will get their points and the Bulldogs will have to keep pace. They shot 51.1% from the field overall and 53.3% from long range in the win over the Blue Raiders. Leading their attack in the win was Kelan Martin, who had 19, while Andrew Chrabascz had 15 and Kamar Baldwin had 13.
The Bulldogs have averaged 72.5 ppg on 46.1% shooting and they have allowed 66.7 ppg on 43.6% shooting in neutral site games this year. Butler checks in at 107th in the nation in scoring, putting up 76.2 ppg, while also ranking 32nd in FG% (47.9%), 90th in 3-point shooting (36.9%) and 65th in free throw shooting (73.8%). At the defensive end of the floor they have been very solid as they come in ranked 75th in points allowed, giving up 68.2 ppg, while also ranking 197th in defensive FG% (44.2%) and 83rd in 3-point defense (33.2%).
The North Carolina Tar Heels just may be the favorites to win it all now that Duke has been eliminated, but first they must shake the fact that they nearly blew it vs the Hogs in the round of 32. The Heels had a pretty big lead in that game, but then the Hogs went on a run and took a lead in the game, before Carolina eventually won it by a score of 72-65. I thought the game would be higher scoring than that, but the defenses did play well in the game especially the Carolina defense. That defense has been very solid over the 2nd half of the year and they allowed the Hogs to hit just 43.3% of their shots from the field overall. The offense for the Heels struggled as they hit just 38.1% of their shots overall, including just 29.4% from long range. This comes after they hung 103 points on 50.7% shooting in their opening win over Texas Southern. Their offense could have a tough time getting going in this one vs a very good Butler defense. Leading their attack against the Hogs was Kennedy Meeks, who had 16 points, while Justin Jackson had 15 and Joel Berry II chipped in with 10.
North Carolina has averaged 88.6 ppg on 48.8% shooting overall and they have allowed 70.0 ppg on 41.1% shooting in neutral site games this year. The Tar Heels enter this game ranked 10th in the nation in scoring, putting up 85.1 ppg, while also ranking 50th in FG% (47.0%), 112th in 3-point shooting (36.4%) and 152nd in free throw shooting (70.8%). At the defensive end of the floor they have been decent as they come in ranked 121st in points allowed, giving up 70.3 ppg, while also ranking 55th in defensive FG% (41.5%) and 134th in 3-point defense (34.1%).
North Carolina is:
The Bulldogs have been playing very well right now as they have won six of their last eight games, while the Heels have won eight of their last 10. The defense for Butler has been solid this year and especially of late, but still, I don’t feel that they will be able to slow down a Carolina offense that is not usually held in check in BB games. They had a horrible shooting game against the Hogs, but they have been a strong shooting team all year and I look for them to get back on track in this one. The Bulldogs offense has been very good of late, but the Heels do know how to play defense as they have allowed 62.4 ppg in their last nine games. I look for Carolina to win this one by at least nine points.
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