Game InfoNCAA Tournament - 1st Round
Arkansas (23-11, 10-8 SEC) vs. Butler (20-13, 9-9 Big East)
Friday, March 16, 2018 - 3:10 pm
Little Caesars Arena (Detroit, Michigan)
truTV - Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel & Allie LaForce
107.5 FM, 1070 AM
Line - Butler -1.5
All time Series: Butler leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Butler 37, Arkansas 21 - Jan. 2, 1931, Butler Fieldhouse
"It's exciting to be, obviously, a part of the NCAA Tournament. We're very proud of our group for earning this opportunity. And it's been, I think, a unique experience just to be back at Butler, my alma mater, and lead this team and this program." So I'm proud of our seniors for their leadership to get us to this point. I think they've grown a ton. Our entire team has grown and learned a ton in our season, along the journey. And so it all culminates here. This is where you want to be at the end of it. So we're looking forward to the opportunity."
LaVall Jordan on coaching in the tournament vs playing in the tournament
"You lose some control as a coach. You can't make a shot. You can't make a play. You can't guard anybody. And so you're trying to just make sure our team is as prepared as possible. And our staff does a great job. Our assistant coaches have been phenomenal since Selection Sunday up until today. And so you just try and make sure that they know what to expect so they can play with free minds and great energy."
LaVall Jordan on facing defensive pressure from Arkansas
"We've seen a few teams that have pressed us and we've done a fairly decent job with that. But we take a lot of pride in taking care of the ball. And so I think that will be a battle of wills. Obviously we have to have a plan to break the pressure and take that. I think we've worked on that the past few days. But when you get out there, sometimes you can't simulate the quickness and the length in practice that you're going to see in the game. So we'll have to respond in the moment. But I believe that's a big part of the game."
Kelan Martin on future NBA player Daniel Gafford
"To be honest, I never really watched him offensively. I never heard of him until we scouted him. But that's our goal, just to attack, attack the paint and just try to get easy scores offensively."
Anton Beard (6-0, 198) - Senior- 9.6 ppg, 3.1 apg
Jaylen Barford (6-3, 202) - Senior - 18.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Daryl Macon (6-3, 185) - Senior - 16.9 ppg, 3.9 apg
Adrio Bailey (6-6, 204) - Sophomore - 4.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Daniel Gafford (6-11, 217) - Freshman - 11.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Aaron Thompson (6-2, 190) - Freshman - 4.3 ppg, 3.2 apg
Kamar Baldwin (6-1, 170) - Sophomore - 15.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Sean McDermott (6-6, 190) - Sophomore - 7.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Kelan Martin (6-7, 220) - Senior - 20.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Tyler Wideman (6-8, 240) - Senior - 9.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Arkansas Involvement Chart
3 Keys For Butler
Slow Down The Arkansas Offense (Literally)
Arkansas loves to push the pace on offense, with the 30th fastest offense in the country. Butler has historically thrived against these types of offenses because they don't give up transition points. If Butler can force Arkansas to beat them in the half court they are likely to have success. The Razorbacks have been willing to settle for inefficient shots this season. They ranked 48th worst in the country in attempting mid range shot attempts, the least efficient shot on the basketball floor. Butler needs to bait them into taking those shots as opposed to 3 pointers, a shot Arkansas converted into points at the 12th best rate in the country at 40.1% this season.
Dominate the Paint
Arkansas is the team with the NBA center, but Butler is the team that needs to win the battle inside. The last thing Butler wants to do is get into a 3 point shooting with Arkansas. Gafford is an excellent shot blocker and neither Tyler Wideman nor Nate Fowler will want to go at him 1-on-1 in the post, but that doesn't mean Arkansas isn't vulnerable in the paint. They rank 296th in the country in defensive rebounding and 319th in sending opponents to the foul line. Unfortunately those aren't areas Butler typically exploits. The Bulldogs are terrific defensive rebounders but terrible offensive rebounders, and there are only 2 high major teams who got to the foul line at a worse rate than Butler this season (Virginia, Washington State).
Knock Down Shots
Sometimes the game of basketball isn't that complicated. For Butler is often simply comes down to making shots. Butler has been extremely inconsistent shooting the basketball, and most of those struggles have come away from Hinkle Fieldhouse. When Butler shoots well they are extremely tough to beat. They are 18-1 when they outshoot their opponents. We can analyze this thing six ways from Sunday but for the Bulldogs it's all about finding the confidence to knock down open jump shots.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
March Madness is unpredictable by nature, but this matchup is absolutely impossible to predict. Arkansas ranks 300th in the nation in consistency while Butler comes in at 329th. Both teams have very high ceilings that should scare the Purdue faithful on Sunday, but neither are reliable. Just about anything is on the table in this one. That said, I don't think Butler is equipped to exploit the weaknesses of the Arkansas defense, so they are going to have to knock down 3s in this one. That's something Butler hasn't done very well outside of Indianapolis this season.
Prediction: Arkansas 74, Butler 68