It’s the fifth-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on the college hardwood as the ACC takes on the Big East in an island paradise. The NC State Wolfpack are the “road” team as they take on the Butler Bulldogs Friday night. NC State rebounded from their first loss as they downed Dayton 76-64, winning outright as a 3.5-point underdog, in their consolation bracket clash Thursday afternoon. Butler got back in the win column as they knocked off BYU 75-70, covering as a 1.5-point favorite, in their consolation bracket matchup Thursday evening. This marks the first time that the programs have met on the hardwood as Division I foes.
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NC State Wolfpack Look to Finish Island Trip StrongNC State bounced back from their first loss of the season as they took down Dayton in their consolation bracket matchup Thursday afternoon. The Wolfpack improved to 5-1 on the season and hope to finish their trip down in the Bahamas strong. Against Dayton, NC State trailed by 10 just eight minutes into the game before rallying to lead by four at the half. The Wolfpack trailed by one five minutes into the second half but took control of the game by ripping off a 17-0 run that put them up 55-39 with 10:46 to play. Their lead didn’t drop below eight the rest of the way as NC State earned the win. The Wolfpack shot 49.1% from the field, including six of 22 from three-point range, and forced 18 Dayton turnovers to offset 16 of their own. Jarkel Joiner poured in 27 points to lead NC State in the win.
The Wolfpack enter this game 24th in the nation in scoring offense with 83.8 points per game this year. NC State is 142nd in rebounding with 37.5 boards a night and dish out 15 assists a night. The Wolfpack is above average on the defensive end, ranking 142nd in the nation by allowing 66.3 points per game this season. Terquavion Smith is second on the Wolfpack as he averages 17.7 points plus 5.2 assists a game this season. Jarkel Joiner (18.7 points, 3.3 assists), Casey Morsell (14.7 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Jack Clark (10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) are solid secondary scoring options. Dusan Mahorcic, D.J. Burns, LJ Thomas, Ernest Ross and Breon Pass are other important pieces in the NC State rotation. The Wolfpack is shooting 48.7% from the field as a team on the year. NC State connects on 9.2 three-pointers a night while shooting 35.5% from beyond the arc. The Wolfpack is an above average team at the charity stripe as they cash in 75.5% of their attempts on the season.
Butler Bulldogs Seek to Earn Second Straight WinButler rebounded from getting hammered by #22 Tennessee as they came up with the victory over BYU in their consolation bracket matchup. The Bulldogs improved to 4-2 on the season and look to leave the islands with back-to-back wins on the board. Butler used an early 7-0 run to lead 13-5 and led by seven at the half. The Bulldogs gave up 12 straight points to open the second half to trail 42-37 before regrouping. Trailing by one, Butler used a 9-2 run to take a 54-48 lead with 11:20 to play. The Bulldogs didn’t trail again though they saw the lead trimmed to one with 1:54 to play before holding on for the victory. Butler shot 52.8% from the field, including seven of 15 from three-point range, and overcame 16 turnovers in the game. Jayden Taylor led the Bulldogs with 20 points in the win.
The Bulldogs put up an average of 75.8 points per game on the season, which puts them 135th in the nation in scoring offense. Butler pulls down 32.8 rebounds per contest and dish out 15.2 assists per contest. The Bulldogs are 44th in scoring defense as they allow 61.8 points per game this season. Chuck Harris is fourth on the team with 12.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists a contest. Jayden Taylor (16.2 points, 4.2 boards), Simas Lukosius (12.5 points, 4.8 boards, 3.2 assists), Manny Bates (12 points, seven boards) and Eric Hunter Jr. (12.8 points, 2.8 assists) are off to good starts. Pierce Thomas, Myles Tate, D.J. Hughes and Connor Turnbull all are looked at to contribute. Butler shoots 50.1% from the field as a team on the season. The Bulldogs knock down an average of 7.7 triples a night while hitting 35.1% from beyond the arc. Butler is mediocre at the charity stripe as they sink 70.8% of their chances this season.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Both teams had solid showings in their consolation-round matchups to bounce back from first-round defeats. Butler was shorthanded against BYU but they could have a problem matching depth with NC State in this contest. Smith, Joiner and Morsell provide a veteran trio of scoring options that can make life tough for Butler. While the Bulldogs have a better nucleus than they had in recent years, the fact remains that they were down to eight healthy players in the game against BYU. That could prove problematic with this being their third game in as many nights against a Wolfpack team that enjoys running and gunning. NC State builds off their win over Dayton and prevails here to make it two straight victories.
Full-Game Total Pick
NC State has gone over the number in five of their six games this season, largely in part due to their offensive success. The Wolfpack is 40th in the nation in effective field goal percentage (55.8%), 26th in two-point shooting (57.6%), 91st in turnover percentage (16.9%) and 42nd in adjusted tempo (72.4 possessions per game) on the season according to KenPom. Butler comes into this game having seen the under go 3-2-1 in their six games this season despite their offensive numbers. The Bulldogs are 34th in effective field goal percentage (56.3%), 17th in two-point shooting (60.2%) and 205th in turnover percentage (19.6%) this season. Butler is a faster than average team in tempo as they are 117th in the nation according to KenPom with 70.1 possessions a night. The Bulldogs can score with the Wolfpack and with both teams playing at a fast tempo, this game winds up over the number.