The North Carolina Tar Heels will face the Butler Bulldogs today in their second game of the Maui Invitational Tournament. UNC is coming off an impressive win over Mississippi State in the opener. The Tar Heels won in a rout by 42 in a balanced effort led by the perimeter shooters.
The Heels connected on 15-32 three point attempts and were led by Leslie McDonald and PJ Hairston who combined for 39 points on 14-24 shooting. Butler defeated Marquette in the opening round on a thrilling buzzer beater from beyond the arc. Butler is currently unranked after going to two consecutive national title games. The Bulldogs are 2-1 on the season after defeating Elon and Marquette and falling to Xavier before heading to Maui.
The Bulldogs are a tough team that plays hard for 40 minutes on both ends of the court. They are a defensive team that averages just 60.5 points per game and they are giving up just 28.7 boards per game good for 28th in the nation. Rotnei Clark leads them at 16 points per game and Khyle Marshall at 15 per on 58.3% shooting from the field.
Against Mississippi State, UNC faced a team that like them likes to run, the Bulldogs will try to slow down the Tar Heels and force them to play in a half court game. Establishing tempo will be key for the Tar Heels who need to impose their will and style of play early. James Michael McAdoo was not needed to dominate in the scoring department on Monday night as the perimeter shooters were lighting it up, look for UNC to try to establish him early in the half court and get out and run early and often.
Butler likes to double team the post and they did a terrific job of eliminating Marquette in the paint, McAdoo needs to be patient and let the game come to him.
Coming off two consecutive games in which they shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter it will be key to see if they can continue to hit the outside shot. PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald are starting to gain confidence and this team will be dangerous if they can fulfill the prophecy of Roy Williams who was confident this would be a much better shooting team this seasons.
In order to beat elite teams like Indiana whom they will face on the 27th of this month, UNC will have to find a balance between leaning on the play of the big men like they did for the first couple games of this season and relying on the perimeter shooting as they did Monday night.
This should be another game in which the Heels win easily. They will rely on their depth in the middle of three games in as many games and need solid contributions from their bench. If they can get balanced scoring and play their style of play they will avoid the upset and win easily.