Butler has beaten a lot of NCAA Tournament teams this year, including Northwestern, Bucknell, Vermont, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Cincinnati and Villanova (twice). The Bulldogs (25-8) also beat Winthrop and Middle Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011.
But does No. 4 Butler have what it takes to knock off No. 1 North Carolina (29-7) on Friday?
“I think it’s going to be really hard,” CBS Sports college basketball analyst Steve Lappas said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think UNC is going to win the whole thing. If you ask me right now who’s going to win the championship with what’s left, I’m going to say North Carolina. I think Butler has, in more ways than one, a tall task. Carolina is much bigger, much tougher inside. Butler is a very good defensive-rebounding team, but they’re going to need all of that to keep those guys off the glass. I think this is going to be a hard game for Butler.”
An interior presence – or lack thereof – is also why Lappas knew that No. 1 Villanova would struggle with No. 8 Wisconsin. Villanova (32-4) fell to Wisconsin, 65-62, in the Round of 32 on Saturday.
“I knew all year that this team just inside didn’t have anything,” Lappas said of the Wildcats. “Jay Wright did an unbelievable job. To be the No. 1 overall seed – I had them a couple of weeks ago at DePaul, and I’m watching them in shoot-around, and (Darryl) Reynolds was not practicing that day. I turned to Andrew Catalon and I said, ‘Are you going to tell me (this is the best team in the country)?’ I said if you saw them in an airport and somebody said they’re going to be the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, you’d say, ‘Get out of here. They look like a Division II team in terms of size.’
“So I knew that they were going to have a problem, and they got a bad matchup,” Lappas continued. “They got a team like Wisconsin that likes to play slow and grind it out like they do – and that’s why they had trouble with Butler. They lose to Butler twice. Butler is like Villanova. They almost love to Virginia. Virginia is like Villanova. And they lost to Wisconsin. Wisconsin is like Villanova but they had a couple of big guys. That’s why I wasn’t surprised.”