2017 NCAA Tournament
South Regional Semifinals
#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs #4 Butler Bulldogs
Friday, March 24, 2017, 7:05 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
FedEx Forum – Memphis, Tennessee
Opening Line: North Carolina -7
Current Line: North Carolina -7 1/2
Opening Total: 152 1/2
Current Total: 153
Opening Money Line: North Carolina -320 / Butler +260
Current Money Line: North Carolina -330 / Butler +270
Even though the ACC had nine teams in the NCAA Tournament, only regular season champion North Carolina survived past the opening weekend. The Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac 12 all had three teams make the Sweet 16. The 29-7 Tar Heels will take on the 25-8 Butler Bulldogs in the South Regional Semifinals Friday in Memphis. North Carolina is the #1 seed in the region and Butler is the #4 seed. The winner will face either the #2 seed Kentucky Wildcats or #3 UCLA Bruins in the regional final Sunday. Blue will be the color of the day in the FedEx Forum as each school wears a different shade of the color.
Butler leads the series 3-2 against North Carolina. Butler has won the last two meetings in holiday tournaments in 2012 and 2014. The Bulldogs beat the Tar Heels 74-66 in the Bahamas in 2014. This is the first ever NCAA Tournament meeting between the teams.
Butler is coached by Chris Holtmann and were second in the Big East at 12-6. Butler was upset in the Big East quarterfinals by Xavier 62-57. The Bulldogs are making their 15th trip to the NCAA Tournament including three straight. Butler famously made Cinderella runs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011. Butler has not been back to the Sweet 16 since that 2011 season. The Bulldogs beat #13 Winthrop 76-64 in the first round and #12 seed Middle Tennessee 74-65 in the second round Saturday, both in Milwaukee.
Butler has road losses at Indiana State, St. John’s, Creighton, Providence, plus home losses to Georgetown, Creighton and Seton Hall. The Bulldogs have neutral site wins over Vanderbilt and Arizona in Las Vegas, and Indiana in Indianapolis (but not in Hinkle Fieldhouse), road wins over Utah, Georgetown, DePaul, Seton Hall, Marquette, Villanova, and Xavier, plus home wins over Northwestern, Bucknell, Norfolk State, Cincinnati, Vermont, Providence, Villanova, Xavier, Marquette, St. John’s, and DePaul. Butler is 19-12 ATS and the total is 14-15-2 this season. The Bulldogs were 2.5 point favorites against Middle Tennessee and the total was 139.5.
North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels won the ACC regular season title with a 14-4 record. They beat Miami 78-53 in the ACC quarterfinals in Washington but were upset by Duke 93-83 in the semifinals. UNC crushed #16 seed Texas Southern 103-64 in the first round and #8 Arkansas 72-65 in the second round Sunday, both in Greenville, SC. The Tar Heels are making their 53rd trip to the tournament and return to the Sweet 16 for the 32nd time.
North Carolina has road losses to Indiana, Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke, and Virginia, plus a neutral site loss to Kentucky in Las Vegas. The Tar Heels home wins over Chattanooga, Long Beach State, Davidson, Tennessee, Northern Iowa, Monmouth, NC State, Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Louisville, and Duke. UNC has road wins at Tulane, Hawaii, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, NC State, and Pittsburgh, plus neutral site wins over Oklahoma State and Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational, plus Notre Dame in Greensboro. The Tar Heels are 17-15-2 ATS and the total is 13-20-1 this season. North Carolina was an 11.5 point favorite against Arkansas and the total was 165.5.
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Butler is outscoring teams 76-68 this season. The Bulldogs are shooting 47.8% from the field and 36.3% from 3 point range. Butler is #33 nationally in field goal percentage. Butler makes 74% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 33.4% from three point range. Butler averages 32.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.7. Butler is #327 in rebounding but #28 in rebounds allowed nationally. The Bulldogs average 13.2 assists, 10.2 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 2.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.2 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 4.9 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.
Kelan Martin averages 16.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. he is probable with a knee injury. Andrew Chrabascz averages 11 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Kamar Baldwin averages 10 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Avery Woodson averages 8.6 points, and 2.5 rebounds. Kethan Savage averages 8.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Tyler Wideman averages 7.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Tyler Lewis, Nate Fowler and Sean McDermott will also get minutes in the rotation.
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North Carolina is outscoring teams 85-70 this season. The Tar Heels are #9 nationally in scoring. North Carolina is shooting 47.2% from the field including 36.6% from 3 point range. UNC is #43 nationally in field goal percentage. The Tar Heels make 70.6% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. UNC is in the top 35 nationally in both categories. The Tar Heels average 43.8 rebounds per game and allow 27.4. UNC is #1 nationally in rebounding and #9 in rebounds allowed. The Tar Heels average 18.2 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 6.9 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.5 assists, 13.6 turnovers, 6.3 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.
Justin Jackson averages 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. Joel Barry II averages 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He is questionable with an ankle injury. Kennedy Meeks averages 12.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1 block per game. Isaiah Hicks averages 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Tony Bradley averages 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Four other Tar Heels average at least 14 minutes per game. Kenny Williams is out for the season with a knee injury.
Butler is 3-0-1 ATS as an NCAA Tournament underdog of between 7-12.5 points, 8-1-1 against ACC teams, 6-1-1 as an underdog, 20-4-2 in NCAA Tournament games, 4-1 in Friday games, 39-10-2 in neutral site games, 38-12-2 as a neutral site underdog, 15-5-2 as an NCAA Tournament underdog, 19-7-2 as an underdog of between 7-12.5 points, 20-8-1 against teams with winning records, 35-16-1 in non-conference games, and 2-5 after a cover.
North Carolina is 13-3 as an NCAA Tournament favorite of between 7-12.5 points, 6-2-1 in Friday games, 18-6-2 as a favorite of between 7-12.5 points, 20-7-2 as a neutral site favorite, 13-5-1 in neutral site games, 5-2 in NCAA Tournament games and as a tournament favorite.
North Carolina barely escaped against Arkansas as they closed the game on a 12-0 run to win by seven points. Butler is a very dangerous team who plays very good defense. They would be perfectly fine playing this game in the 60’s to slow down the speedy Tar Heels. I think UNC wins a close game though.