2016 NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 9 Butler

By Jason Fletcher

The No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region will be looking to avoid another 2016 March Madness upset as the Virginia Cavaliers take on the Butler Bulldogs on Friday. After the insanity we saw during Friday’s games, it seems as if no teams are safe in this tournament. Not to mention, Butler isn’t your ordinary No. 9 seed.

Virginia enters the second round of the tournament following an 81-45 victory over Hampton on Thursday. The Cavaliers were led by senior forward Anthony Gill who posted 19 points and seven rebounds while the team’s leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon added 11.

The Bulldogs had a back-and-forth affair with Texas Tech, but ended up pulling away in the second half. The Bulldogs were led by senior Kellen Dunham who posted 23 points and knocked down 5-of-9 three-pointers. Tyler Wideman added 14 points and 7 rebounds while Andrew Chrabascz contributed 13 points. Butler’s two best players, Kelan Martin and Roosevelt Jones, were a combined 5-0f-17 from the field.

What To Watch For

The Cavaliers are known for their suffocating half-court defense, but their offensive play has improved this year. Against Hampton, Tony Bennett‘s team shot 55 percent from the field and 48 percent from the 3-point line. If Virginia is going to advance to the Sweet 16, they’ll have to use the same formula against Butler.

The Bulldogs are the exact opposite of Virginia in that their team is built on offense. They averaged 80.6 points per game during the season, but only reached 71 against Texas Tech. That was due to the poor play of Jones who was only 1-of-8 from the field and 2-0f-5 from the free-throw line. He also added four turnovers. If Butler is going to pull the upset, Jones has to play much better.

Prediction

The good news for Virginia is that Michigan State was eliminated on Friday and the Cavaliers will no longer have to worry about playing them in a potential Elite Eight matchup. The Spartans eliminated Virginia in each of the last two tournaments.

That being said, the Cavaliers will have a battle on their hands with Butler. The keys will be for them to continue to knock down their open shots and contest every Butler shot. If they do that, they will be just fine and move on to the Sweet 16. Expect a close game though.

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