Sweet 16 Odds – If you go back five or six years, you remember that the Butler Bulldogs unexpectedly made it to the national championship game, not once, but two years in a row. Brad Stevens, who was the architect of all that, has moved on to the Boston Celtics, but there is a new coach in place and a team that has high expectations going into the Sweet 16 against the North Carolina Tar Heels, in a game that begins at 7:09 PM ET on Friday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. It will be televised live on CBS, and VietBet patrons will have the opportunity to place wagers in real time while the action is in progress, using the state-of-the-art software available from Live Betting Ultra.
Sweet 16 Odds – Butler vs North Carolina:
In the Sweet 16 Odds posted on this game by the folks at VietBet, North Carolina is the solid favorite:
North Carolina Tar Heels -7.5
Butler Bulldogs +.5
Over 153 points -110
Under 153 points -110
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March Madness Sweet 16 Odds – Butler vs North Carolina – CJ’s Take:
North Carolina, of course, made it to the national title game last year before losing to Villanova. They won the ACC tournament, beating Duke 93-83, but in their last Big Dance game, they struggled against Arkansas, almost losing a double-digit lead and needing a surge toward the end to come out with a 72-65 victory. Now Roy Williams advances to the Sweet 16 for the 18th time in his career as head coach. The Tar Heels are 29-7 straight-up (18-16-1 ATS), and when this tournament started, they were ranked sixth in the nation by the Associated Press and eighth in the Coaches’ poll.
Butler is coached by Chris Holtmann, and they are a team designed to play a deliberate brand of basketball and avoid turnovers. Indeed, they are 10th best in the nation in offensive turnover percentage, and that has helped them compiling 25-8 straight-up record, and a 19-12 record against the points. They scored a 12-point victory over Winthrop in the first NCAA Tournament game, and then came back to be a strong mid-major squad in Middle Tennessee 74-65 to get to this juncture. Butler is #21 in the Associated Press poll and #24 in the Coaches’ rankings.
Despite those appearances in the national championship game, Butler is still probably not widely known among casual college basketball fans. But make no mistake about it – they have plenty of credentials. This team has great wins on its resume, defeating Arizona, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, with two victories over Xavier and Marquette. Perhaps most significantly, Butler has two wins over Villanova, the defending national champions, who were the #1 team in the country and the #1 overall seed in the Big Dance, before they got upset by Wisconsin.
Their defensive numbers are not necessarily all that glittering, but they do have some stoppers. Kethan Savage is one of them; he did a great job in holding Middle Tennessee’s Giddy Potts to 0-8 from the field in the last game. And VietBet patrons can take note of an interesting strategy move by Holtzman, who is now bringing his leading scorer, Kelan Martin (16.1 points per game) off the bench.
Joel Berry, North Carolina’s point guard, has been dealing with a bad ankle, and thus far he is shooting just 14.3% in the tournament, which is why it is beneficial that this team is playing on Friday, to give him a little extra rest. Clearly the big challenge for Butler is to keep North Carolina off the glass; although the Bulldogs are serviceable on the defensive boards, North Carolina is the top offensive rebounding team in the country, and they also possess the top rebounding margin. With Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson up front, they are going to be a handful for just about any team. However, Butler has only lost two games this season by eight points or more, both to Creighton.
by Charles Jay
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