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2018 NCAA Tournament: Butler vs. Arkansas Preview

Bulldogs look to make it six straight tourney appearances with a win

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Detroit Practice Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

THE FACTS

Time and Date: Friday, March 15 @ 3:10 p.m. ET

TV Channel: truTV

Watch Online: ncaa.com


ODDS AND ENDS

(via OddsShark)

The Spread: Butler is a 1.5-point favorite

Over/Under: 151.5 points


GAME PREVIEW

The Butler Bulldogs have won in the Round of 64 in each of their last five NCAA Tournament appearances, and hope to continue the trend on Friday against the 7-seed Arkansas Razorback. The two teams come into the tourney with some striking similarities.

Both teams finished the regular season with double digit losses and sixth place finishes in their respective conferences. Both teams are top-40 teams according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, and both teams were eliminated from last year’s tournament by eventual champion North Carolina. Furthermore, both teams rely heavily on a duo of perimeter players.

Arkansas is led by Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon. Both are seniors, and they lead the Razorbacks in scoring at 18.0 and 16.9 points per game, respectively. Butler will try to counter the scoring punch of Barford and Macon with Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin who average 20.8 and 15.5 points per game.

Butler has typically defended scoring guards fairly well, but the Razorbacks have another asset that may be more problematic for the Bulldogs. The 6’11” freshman Daniel Gafford will be a tough match-up for Butler’s Tyler Wideman, who is tough as nails, but undersized.

Both teams have NCAA Tournament experience. Which team will advance to the Round of 32 again, and which team will make a quick exit from the field?


KEYS TO THE GAME

Butler: Three-point shooting

While Butler and Arkansas appear to be very comparable teams, Butler has a serious x-factor in its three-point shooting. Baldwin, Martin, Paul Jorgensen, and Sean McDermott are all capable of getting hot from behind the arc. If even one of those guys can sink four or five threes, it should give Butler enough to prevail.

Arkansas: Points in the paint

Butler has been relatively successful defending the perimeter in recent games but has struggled mightily defending the paint. Arkansas needs to aggressively force the ball inside early and score in the paint. This should get them the lead and open up kick-out opportunities later on.