NCAA Basketball: Pick Tar Heels to Cover in Butler vs. UNC

David Lawrence

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 1:34 PM GMT

Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 1:34 PM GMT

The Butler Bulldogs have endured a very difficult offseason, and now they’re venturing into the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which is going to require plenty from every Bulldog player and coach. Is this team in position to take advantage of North Carolina’s weaknesses? UNC is a 10-point dog on the college basketball betting lines.

The Butler Bulldogs Can Win Because…
The Bulldogs can expose North Carolina’s defense. Heading into this game, the Tar Heels are ranked 147th in scoring defense, putting them in the middle third of the country’s teams. North Carolina is also a middling team in terms of taking the ball away from the opposition. The Tar Heels are 137th in steals and these are not very encouraging statistics from a North Carolina fan’s viewpoint. North Carolina hasn't played very good teams so far: North Carolina Central, Robert Morris, and Davidson. If North Carolina wasn't numerically impressive on defense against those kinds of teams, Butler should be able to enjoy a reasonable amount of success on offense and play the kind of game it wants. The Bulldogs like to slow the game down, so if North Carolina can’t get steals and transform turnovers into easy baskets, the Tar Heels will be deprived of a main part of their game plan. North Carolina, under head coach Roy Williams, has always loved to run and play up-tempo basketball. Butler could feel comfortable enough in its halfcourt offense to never allow the UNC Tar Heels to play at the pace they’d prefer. This is how an upset can happen; North Carolina will get frustrated if Butler doesn’t turn the ball over and makes a good percentage of its shots in the first half. As the game continues in the second half, more good Butler patterns will unnerve the Tar Heels, and you might want to consider this when looking at the NCAA basketball odds, as the formula for the upset will be right there.

 

The North Carolina Tar Heels Can Win Because…
They have an explosive offense and a much better coaching situation than the Bulldogs do. North Carolina might have some weaknesses on defense, but its offense has done well so far this season. The UNC Tar Heels have averaged just under 90 points a game, putting them in the top 15 of the nation. They have averaged nearly 50 rebounds per game, putting them in the national top five. North Carolina is fifth in assists per game with 21.7, and it is a solid 70th out of 351 teams in field goal percentage, at 47.8. This is also a team that, due to its size in the paint, is able to block some shots and alter many others. There’s a lot Carolina can do to bother Butler.

Butler is also hurt by the fact that Brandon Miller, the team’s coach, had to take a leave of absence in the offseason for health reasons. Chris Holtmann is now the team’s coach, and that transition cannot help the Bulldogs in terms of preparation against Roy Williams, a Hall of Fame-level coach on the Tar Heels’ bench.

Revisit our original predictions for Battle 4 Atlantis

Outlook
In the end, the coaching situation is something that, early in the season, is likely to give North Carolina so much more focus and guidance. That’s going to be the difference in this one along with the Tar Heels explosive offense. Take UNC with your NCAA basketball picks here.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: North Carolina -10.5 at 5Dimes

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