INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, the No. 4 Seed in the South Region, continue their 2017 NCAA Tournament run in Memphis on Friday, March 24. Butler will face the No. 1 Seed North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2017Sweet 16 at the FedExForum. The tip is set for 7:09 PM ET and will air nationally on CBS with Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson on the call. The Bulldogs have a record of 25-8 while North Carolina is 29-7.
This is Butler’s sixth Sweet 16 appearance (2011, 2010, 2007, 2003, and 1962).
Butler owns a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series with North Carolina. Butler has won the previous two match-ups, both on neutral courts. Butler won, 74-66, in the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis, and 82-71, in the 2012 Maui Invitational. The teams first played on Jan. 1, 1929 in Indianapolis (Butler won, 43-20) and then played a home-and-home series during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons (both UNC wins). Head Coach Chris Holtmann is 1-1 against UNC with the win coming in 2014. His Gardner-Webb team lost to UNC to open the 2012-13 season, Holtmann’s third and final season leading Gardner-Webb.
In the 2014 win over North Carolina, junior F Kelan Martin had 17 points in 17 minutes as a freshman. That was Martin’s fourth collegiate game and the 17 points tied for his second-best output that season. Senior F Andrew Chrabascz (seven points, six rebounds) and junior F Tyler Wideman (four points, four rebounds) also played in that game.
This will be the seventh time that Butler has faced off with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs are 2-4 in previous match-ups, defeating Syracuse in 2010 and Pittsburgh in 2011. In each of those seasons, Butler advanced to the National Championship Game. The Bulldogs lost to top seeds in 2016 (Virginia, Round of 32), 2010 (Duke in the National Championship Game), 2007 (Florida, Sweet 16) and 2003 (Oklahoma, Sweet 16).
Butler has not trailed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, posting wins over Winthrop and Middle Tennessee State. The games were tied for only a combined 1:18 of game action.
Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann and former Head Coach Brad Stevens are the only two coaches in Butler history to lead their teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of their first three seasons on the Butler sidelines.
Butler’s second-round game against Middle Tennessee State was the 100th game as Head Coach at Butler for Chris Holtmann. He is off to an impressive 70-30 mark through his first 100 games. Holtmann’s 70 wins are already seventh on Butler’s career list. The top three names on that list: Tony Hinkle (560), current Butler VP/Director of Athletics Barry Collier (196) and Brad Stevens (166).
The Bulldogs are shooting 50 percent (48-96) in their two NCAA Tournament games. Of the eight players who have taken a shot in tournament play, seven of them are shooting 50 percent or better. Butler shot 51 percent against Middle Tennessee State in the second round. Butler out-shot its opponent in both games. When shooting a better percentage than its opponent, Butler is 20-0 this season and 55-2 under Head Coach Chris Holtmann.
Butler is now 33-1 under Chris Holtmann when scoring 80 or more points, including a 12-1 mark this season.
Junior F Kelan Martin has led the team in scoring in five of the team’s last six games. In four of those games (and eight times this season), Martin has led the Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding. On the season, Martin has led the team in scoring 15 times and has pulled down the team’s most rebounds on 16 occasions (including both NCAA Tournament games). He has 10 20-point games on the season.
Freshman G Kamar Baldwin has 57 steals so far this season, a mark that is eighth on Butler’s single-season list. He has seven games of swiping three or more steals. Baldwin’s 331 points this season are eighth all-time for a Butler freshman. He had a career-high four assists in the second round win over MTSU.
Graduate transfer G Avery Woodson returns to the FedExForum, where he played for Memphis the past two seasons before graduating and coming to Butler. He shot 70-of-185 from three-point range at FedExForum, a 38-percent clip.
Behind a 53-percent performance in Saturday’s win over Middle Tennessee State, the Bulldogs are shooting 47 percent (16-34) from three-point range in NCAA Tournament play. Half of those makes belong to Woodson, who is 8-of-14 in the two games, including six against Winthrop in the first round that tied his career-high.
Thirteen of 15 points for senior F Andrew Chrabascz came in the second half of the win over Middle Tennessee State. Chrabascz made five of his eight attempts after the intermission, including a three-pointer with 3:25 to play that ended a 9-0 MTSU run and pushed the three-point lead back to six.
Redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis had eight assists against Winthrop, which was just one off Butler’s NCAA Tournament high of nine (Mike Monserez vs. Louisville, 2003). The eight helpers were also one shy of Lewis’s season-high of nine against St. John’s on Feb. 15.
The Bulldogs are 15-3 this season when Lewis has four or more assists. That includes both of Butler’s NCAA Tournament games so far. His assist/turnover ratio of 4.03 is third in the country.
The Bulldogs have put together arguably the most impressive regular season in program history, which was validated with a No. 4 seed by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee, the best in Butler history. Butler was the No. 13 overall seed in the committee’s 1-68 rankings, making Butler the highest-ranked of the four No. 4 seeds. Butler’s previous high seed was a No. 5 seed in both 2007 and 2010.
Butler’s season-long resume includes a 14-5 regular season record against the 12 teams that made the 2017 tournament field. The Bulldogs played NCAA Tournament teams in 19 of their 31 games this season, including non-conference wins over Arizona, Cincinnati, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Vermont and Bucknell.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Butler was 16-5 against teams ranked in the NCAA RPI Top 100, with nine of those wins coming against the Top 50 (not counting a win over No. 51 Northwestern). Those nine wins against the RPI Top 50 trailed only Duke (13), Villanova (12), North Carolina (11) and Florida State (11). Baylor also had nine wins.
The Bulldogs went 2-0 this season against the NCAA Tournament’s overall No. 1 seed and defending national champion Villanova. Butler handed the Wildcats two of their four losses this season.
The Bulldogs are now 16-2 on the season when pulling down more rebounds than their opponent, as they did in the first round. Butler out-rebounded Winthrop, 42-27. The +15 rebounding mark tied Butler’s highest advantage of the season (40-25 vs. St. John’s on Feb. 15).
On the season, the Bulldogs are averaging only 10.2 turnovers per game. That mark is ninth nationally. Butler had a season-low four turnovers – including none in the second half – against Marquette on Jan. 16. The Bulldogs have posted 10 or fewer miscues in 16 games this season and are 13-3 in those games, including the team’s second round game with Middle Tennessee State.
The Bulldogs are now 10-1 in their last 11 first round contests in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs’ most recent first round loss came in 2009.
Butler is 10-0 in NCAA Tournament play as the better-seeded team, including both NCAA Tournament games this season.
In BIG EAST Conference play, Butler’s bench out-scored the opponent’s reserves by a combined score of 514-255, which is a 14.4-point advantage on average per game. Butler’s bench out-scored the opponent’s in 16 of its 18 BIG EAST games this season.
Butler had a 28-9 bench advantage in the first-round win over Winthrop. The Bulldogs had 30 points off the bench against Middle Tennessee State in the second round, but MTSU’s reserves accounted for 33 points.
Butler has shot 50 percent or better from the field 13 times this season. The Bulldogs are 12-1 in those games.
Butler is 19-1 when its opponent scores less than 70 points, and the Bulldogs are 6-7 on the season when their opponent scores 70 or more. The Bulldogs held Winthrop to 64 points and Middle Tennessee State to 65.
Butler has been in the field for nine of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments, only missing out in 2012 and 2014. This is Butler’s 15th NCAA Tournament appearance and the Bulldogs now have a 23-14 all-time mark in tournament play. After appearing in the 1962 NCAA Tournament, 14 of the appearances have come in the last 21 years.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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