Butler vs Arkansas Preview and Prediction
Butler vs Arkansas Preview
The first team to 100 points wins. That is what to expect when the 7th-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks play the 10th-seeded Butler Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
Tempo, tempo, tempo
Both teams love to push the pace and score the rock.
Arkansas is averaging 81.1 points a game. Butler is averaging 79.1 points a game.
“Obviously, we love the up-tempo,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “So for the fans, you get two teams that like to score. I think the fans are the winner.”
Anderson, 58, an assistant for 17 years under Nolan Richardson, has brought winning basketball back to Arkansas. The Razorbacks missed the NCAA tournament in his first three seasons but have made it in three of the past four.
Arkansas has an 8-8 record against the 2018 NCAA tournament field, compared with Butler’s 5-10. The Razorbacks have won eight of 11, losing only to Kentucky, at Missouri, and to Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Back from last year are two senior guards: Jaylen Barford (18.0 ppg) and Daryl Macon (16.9), who were on All-SEC first and second teams, respectively. Macon scored 19 points against North Carolina last March and 33 in a Dec. 30 upset of then-No. 19 Tennessee.
No. 3 scorer is 6-11 freshman Daniel Gafford, who is averaging 11.9 points and ranks 19th in the NCAA with 73 blocked shots. Remember Gafford because he is a potential NBA Draft lottery pick. The Razorbacks are without senior forward Dustin Thomas, a part-time starter who was dismissed from the team last week.
Get to know Butler
The Bulldogs are led by first-year coach LaVall Jordan, who has put this program into the NCAAs for the 10th time in 12 seasons. Kelan Martin is the star to know. Butler’s big wins this season over Ohio State and Villanova make them a tempting second weekend pick.
Back to Kelan Martin (20.8 PPG)–he is a 6’7 monster who is shooting over 50 percent from the floor and 36 percent from deep. He can also do some damage on the boards, owning five double-doubles this season.
What the Bulldogs need to do to advance
It’s simple, keep Arkansas UNDER 80 points.
The Razorbacks are 17-1 when scoring 80 or more points, 6-10 when scoring fewer than 80. Arkansas ranks 12th nationally in three-point percentage (.401), and Butler is 296th in defending threes (.371).
LINE: -1.5 Butler
I was surprised to see the 10th-seeded Butler Bulldogs as the favorite in this matchup. They have played some elite teams and came away victorious in those matchups, but I’m not sold on their defense, specifically guarding the three-point line. If Arkansas hits the 80-point plateau give them the victory.
Arkansas 85 Butler 78