North Carolina (29-7, 14-4 ACC) vs. Butler (25-8, 12-6 Big East)
Friday, March 24, 2017 - 7:09 pm
FedEx Forum (Memphis, Tennessee)
CBS - Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery
Line - Butler +7
All time Series: Butler leads 3-2
Last Meeting: Butler 74, #5 North Carolina 66 - 11/27/14 - Battle 4 Atlantis
“We're playing a No. 1 seed who can easily win a National Championship, who has a Hall of Fame coach and a terrific program. They are elite in everything they do. We are going to have to play very, very well to have a chance to win this thing. And we're going to try to -- as we've done, stay in the moment as much as possible.”
“I can't tell you how much I respect the way Coach Williams coaches and the way his program, that program -- look at his résumé. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable, his résumé. I think between he and I, we have eight Final Fours, two National Championships, about 15 Sweet 16s, and a ton of Conference Championships and over 900 wins. So somebody is going to be really calm come opening tip and somebody is going to be really nervous. I'll let you figure that out.”
“They do what they do, and they do it in such an exceptional way, and they say, come stop us, and it's a lot easier said than done. We're going to have to be really physical. We're going to have to be really smart in how we play because they're a tough-minded group, and they're really intentional about the way they want to play. Some teams will deviate from how -- they don't. They come at you in transition, they come at you through the post, they come at you on the glass, and they say, come stop us.”
“With the names that are here with North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, the number of championships, the number of wins, does make it a little unusual, but I happen to think right now Butler is better than any of them, and that's the team we're getting ready to play. But it's pretty impressive.”
“Butler, as I said, they've played us twice in the last five years and beaten us both times, so they've got my attention to say the least."
Joel Berry (6-0, 195) - Junior - 14.4 ppg, 3.7 apg
Theo Pinson (6-6, 211) - Junior - 5.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Justin Jackson (6-8, 210) - Junior - 18.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242) - Senior - 12.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260) - Senior - 12.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg
Kethan Savage (6-3, 205) - Senior - 8.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Avery Woodson (6-2, 190) - Senior - 8.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Kamar Baldwin (6-0, 170) - Freshman - 10.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Andrew Chrabascz (6-7, 230) - Senior - 11.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Tyler Wideman (6-8, 240) - Junior - 7.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
3 Keys For Butler
Keep UNC off the glass
North Carolina has an elite offense for one reason. They are the #1 offensive rebounding team in the country. They’ve grabbed nearly 42% of their own missed shots this season and get over 6 putback attempts per game. Butler probably isn’t going to win the rebounding battle in this one, but they’ve got to keep the margin reasonable. The Tar Heels are not a good shooting team, so if the Dawgs can hold them to one and done they will find success on defense.
Control the tempo
Butler must make this a half court game. UNC isn’t very good at running half court sets, but they get a lot of easy buckets in transition. Almost a third of UNC initial shot attempts come in the first 10 seconds of a possession, where they have an effective field goal percentage (FG% adjusted for 3-pointers) of 55.4%. Once the shot clock gets below 20 that number drops down to only 49.9%. By comparison the Bulldogs eFG% is 52.5% is the same scenario. North Carolina also has an eFG% of only 47.3% on initial shot attempts after an opponent scores. Butler’s slow style of play could really frustrate the Tar Heels.
Win the turnover battle
Butler absolutely cannot lose the turnover battle and win this game. North Carolina will likely win the rebounding battle, so losing the turnover battle as well would lead to a significant shot attempt disparity. It would take a great shooting night by Butler to overcome that. Turning the ball over will also make it hard to control the tempo and will lead to easy baskets on the other end for Carolina. Butler is one of the best in the country this year at taking care of the ball (10th), but North Carolina is pretty good themselves (47th).
3 Keys For North Carolina
Attack the paint
In case you haven’t heard, North Carolina is bigger and more athletic than Butler. The Tar Heels will need to use this advantage to get shots in the paint and earn trips to the charity stripe. The latter isn’t something they’ve done very well this year, ranking 255th in the country in percentage of points from the free throw line and 242nd in the country in free throw attempts per field goal attempt. Butler’s bigs are susceptible to foul trouble, and this isn’t a game the Bulldogs will want to go small with Chrabascz at center. Early foul trouble could be disastrous for Butler.
Butler has upset North Carolina twice in a row by being the more disciplined team. For the past 15 or so years teams like North Carolina have tried to beat Butler by simply relying on superior size and athleticism. It doesn’t have a great track record of success. UNC will want to play fast, but if they try to force the tempo when it’s not there Butler is going to exploit that. The Tar Heels have beaten themselves at times this year, and Butler will try to bait UNC into doing that once again.
Run Butler off the 3 point line
The Bulldogs are shooting 46% from behind the arc so far in the tournament. Butler is 14-1 on the season when they shoot better than 40% from 3-point range. North Carolina has been below average at defending the 3-point line this season. If they give Butler free reign to fire away from deep they will open up the door for an upset. The Bulldogs have been inconsistent from deep on the season, but I’m sure that’s something Roy Williams would rather not roll the dice on.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
The recipe for an upset here is crystal clear, and it’s one the Bulldogs are familiar with. Slow the game down, bait UNC into settling for bad shots, and corral the rebound on defense. Take care of the basketball and knock down open 3s on offense. It’s a very simple game plan, and while it’s easier said than done, I think it’s one the Bulldogs are going to execute well.
Prediction: Butler 75, North Carolina 69