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North Carolina vs. Butler ATS Picks

NCAA Tournament Picks

The North Carolina Tar Heels got a surprising scare from Arkansas on Sunday, but pulled through and are now shockingly the only hope the ACC has of producing a national champion this season. Other ACC contenders like Duke, Louisville, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Virginia all fell by the wayside this weekend and only North Carolina is left from what was supposed to be the strongest conference in America. That gives their Sweet 16 opponent, the Butler Bulldogs, plenty of hope that they can pull off the upset.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Butler Bulldogs
Date and Time: Friday, March 24, 2017, 7:09 p.m. ET
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
College Basketball Odds: North Carolina -7, O/U 152.5
North Carolina vs. Butler TV Coverage: CBS

College Basketball Odds

North Carolina was the cream of the crop in the ACC during the regular season and earned a one-seed on the perceived strength of the conference despite a seven-loss campaign. In conference play, the Tar Heels had problems with their arch-nemesis, Duke, and Virginia, but dispatched of virtually everyone else in the conference with ease. Under was a solid play all season long with a record of 20-13-1 in UNC games.

In the tournament, the Tar Heels easily covered against Texas Southern in their first round game, winning by 39 points. However, they were down 65-60 with less than 4 minutes left against Arkansas and needed to rally in order to get the win. UNC failed to cover the 11.5-point spread, but held the Razorbacks scoreless over the last 3 minutes and change to get a 72-65 win.

Butler was the fortunate four-seed that got to play two double-digit small-conference schools in the first two rounds of the tournament. The Bulldogs cruised past Winthrop in their first game but barely got the cover as an 11-point favorite, but Middle Tennessee State was expected to test them. That test never really materialized though as Butler outperformed MTSU at the three-point line and ended up getting another win and cover to make it here.

The Bulldogs were yet another team that suffered a surprising first round exit from their conference tournament only to use that rest to their advantage and make it to the Sweet 16. This isn’t the Butler team that we saw when Brad Stevens was here, but it’s still a solid squad.

Matchup to Watch

Rebounding will be the most important aspect of this matchup and Butler will have to find some way to keep it close on the boards against UNC. The Tar Heels are the best rebounding team in the country, ripping down 43.8 boards a game and are outrebounding its opponents by a whopping margin of 16.4 a game on average. Kennedy Meeks is the star up front with 9 rebounds a game, but everyone on this team can pull down boards.

That’s not the case for Butler. The Bulldogs are averaging just 32.3 rebounds per game, a mark that ranks them 326th in the country, and routinely get outrebounded on the glass. That led to MTSU getting off 10 more shots than Butler had in their meeting on Saturday and could have led to a Blue Raiders win under other circumstances. The Bulldogs frontcourt doesn’t have near the size that the Tar Heels do and they will have to scrap and grind for every loose ball.

North Carolina vs. Butler Free Picks

UNC is the second-biggest favorite of the Sweet 16 matchups and it’s easy to see why. The Tar Heels may have gotten a scare from Arkansas, but are the most battle-tested team in the tournament with most of last year’s squad that made the National Championship back and hungry for another shot. They will have one less day of rest prior to their game against Butler, but that won’t be a factor.

The Tar Heels are going to roll in this one. Butler just doesn’t have the horses up front and isn’t as deep as North Carolina. Credit to the Bulldogs for finding ways to scrap together wins all season, but that ends here.

North Carolina vs. Butler ATS Pick: Lay the points with North Carolina
North Carolina vs. Butler Score Prediction: North Carolina 83, Butler 71