North Carolina vs. Butler prediction and game preview, as the No. 1 Tar Heels and No. 4 Bulldogs face off in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Chris Holtmann’s No. 4-seeded Bulldogs took down No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee, 74-65, on Saturday in Milwaukee to earn a return trip to the Sweet Sixteen. The balanced and versatile Bulldogs withstood a late-game rally by the Blue Raiders, who cut their deficit from 12 to three points but could not pull out a victory. Butler’s last trip to the Sweet Sixteen was back in 2011, and there’s no reason why another Final Four trip can’t occur if it continues to play this well.
As for the team they’ll be going up against, the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels had a much closer go of it in round two than they did in round one. North Carolina took care of No. 16 Texas Southern easily, 103-64. But Arkansas pushed the Heels to the limit on Sunday. Despite the play from the Razorbacks, though, UNC held them scoreless in the final three minutes of the game to take a 72-65 victory.
North Carolina vs. Butler Game Preview
Date: March 24, 2017
Venue: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
North Carolina Wins If …
The Tar Heels have to shoot much better from behind the arc than they did against Arkansas. If they show up and shoot 5-of-17 from three (29.4 percent) again, they’re going to have a tough time with Butler. Joel Berry II was 2-of-8 from behind the arc and contributed 10 points. He was 2-of-13 from the field, but he has to be more efficient if UNC is going to stay alive in the tourney.
The Heels did win the battle on the boards, though, out-rebounding the Razorbacks, 45-38. North Carolina came up with 18 offensive rebounds, and Kennedy Meeks was a huge part of that. He supplied seven of those offensive boards, and he wound up with 11 rebounds in total. If Berry heats up, Meeks cleans the glass and Justin Jackson provides some clutch shooting, UNC will win.
Butler Wins If …
Butler buried all four of its 3-point attempts in the first 10 minutes of the opening half to seize early control against Middle Tennessee. This Bulldogs team is versatile with playmaking guards who can also get to the rim, such as freshman Kamar Baldwin. Being aggressive yet efficient is the key to this offense.
The Bulldogs made life very difficult for Conference USA player of the year JaCorey Williams, who finished with 20 points but had to work extra hard for his points. Meanwhile, teammate Giddy Potts was held scoreless, going 0 of 8 from the field after entering the game averaging nearly 16 points per contest. The Bulldogs need to continually defend hard, especially against the opponent’s top scorers, if another Final Four run is to be in the works.
North Carolina vs. Butler Prediction
The Bulldogs are going to push the Tar Heels to the brink just like Arkansas did. Butler will start out hot from behind the three-point line, and that will help it get out to an early lead in the first half. However, UNC will close out and force the Bulldogs to put the ball on the floor. Some blocked shots and steals will help North Carolina pick up some points in transition, and Meeks will provide the presence needed down low to lead a surge in the second half and keep Roy Williams’ squad dancing.
North Carolina vs. Butler Score Prediction: North Carolina 82, Butler 77