After facing three teams ranked in the 200s and one in the mid-100s according to KenPom, the Tar Heels will face their first "legitimate" opponent in Butler. The Bulldogs moved into the Maui Invitational Semifinals on the strength of a dramatic buzzer beater from 30-plus feet out. In case you missed it, Rotnei Clark drove down court and while well covered flung the ball up one handed from 35 feet away and nailed the game winning three for a 72-71 win over Marquette. And yes, feel free to wonder where that shot was in the 2010 NCAA Championship game.
Anyway, the Tar Heels will certainly have more to worry about in this game than they did on Monday night while rolling over Mississippi State. UNC hit 15 threes and beat MSU in every aspect of the game. It was an impressive win though one coming against a completely overmatched team. In essence UNC came out focused and did what it was supposed to do.
Against Butler, things will prove a tad more difficult with the added bonus of the Bulldogs being a well-coached team. Butler also presents some challenges with some versatile players who will look to slow the tempo down. While Butler does use ten players for 10 or more minutes a game, only four of them exceed 20 mpg and they are all in the 26-32 mpg range. Seeing this is the second of three games and Butler is coming off a hard fought win while the Heels cruised, a higher tempo could effectively wear the Bulldogs down. It is also interesting to note the team's leading rebounders are 6-4 Roosevelt Jones and 6-6 Khyle Marshall. Marshall had 24 points and nine rebounds against Marquette and is the teams second leading scorer. The aforementioned Clark(an Arkansas transfer) leads the team in scoring at 16 ppg and scored 20 points against MU on 4-14 shooting from three. Overall, Butler has not shot the ball particularly well putting the burden on the Tar Heel defense to ensure that remains the case.
When the Heels have the ball, I would expect a bigger game from James Michael McAdoo than we saw on Monday night. McAdoo scored 10 and only took eight shots which was fine because his teammates were unbelievably hot from outside. It would be foolish to expect another shooting performance like UNC had against Mississippi State, especially since the Butler defense will be much better. That means a steady diet of McAdoo and more balance to the offense which should be enough to carry UNC into the Maui Champioship game against either Illinois or Chaminade.
UNC 74 Butler 66