Thanks to mega-upsets not going down early and often in the 2017 NCAA tournament (although there were some upsets), fans will get to see teams like the North Carolina Tar Heels taking on the Butler Bulldogs in the Sweet 16.
In this Sweet 16 matchup, the top two teams (in chalk fashion) in the top half of the South will take the court against one another as the No. 1 seed will take on the No. 4 seed. In fact, the top four teams in the South did some surviving and advancing in the first two rounds of the dance, which means some great basketball is about to grace TVs with its presence.
The winner of this contest will go on to play the winner of the No. 2 vs. No. 3 game, which will be played against the Kentucky Wildcats and UCLA Bruins.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at how No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 4 seed Butler made it to this stage in the 2017 NCAA tournament.
The Tar Heels, as expected, took care of business against No. 16 seed Texas Southern Tigers in the first round and then No. 8 seed Arkansas Razorbacks in the second. The Bulldogs took down No. 13 seed Winthrop Eagles and then No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
While the Tar Heels are the favorites entering this Sweet 16 clash (that tends to be the case when a team holds a No. 1 seed, like North Carolina does), they will be going up against a Butler team that knocked off the Villanova Wildcats — you know, the same Villanova squad that earned the overall No. 1 seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament — twice during the regular season.
Not only that, but this Butler team also took down the Arizona Wildcats when they were ranked No. 8, the Cincinnati Bearcats when they were ranked No. 22, the Indiana Hoosiers when they were ranked No. 9 (side note: Indiana upset North Carolina early on in the 2016-17 college basketball season), and the Xavier Musketeers when they were ranked No. 15.
North Carolina is talented (this we know), but Butler, even without head coach Brad Stevens (that era is long gone), is the real deal.
Before this Sweet 16 clash goes down, make sure to get your fix of NCAA tournament bold predictions.
Kelan Martin Pours In 25 (Or More) Points
If Butler plans on keeping pace with the Tar Heels, a team that scored 103 points in the first round, then Martin has to put in a masterful performance. For what it’s worth, he is the only player on the team who is averaging 12-plus points per game.
Call it a hunch, but 25 (or more) points sounds about right for Butler’s Martin.
Justin Jackson Fails To Crack The 15-Point Mark
Justin Jackson has had a phenomenal junior year. Look no further than his 18.1 points per game, which just so happens to lead the team in scoring, to figure that one out.
While the Tar Heels have plenty of scoring options (most Roy Williams-coached teams do), if Jackson doesn’t come up big, then North Carolina could be in trouble.
Jackson had 21 points in Round 1 and 15 in the second round, but, in bold prediction fashion, he will fail to crack the 15-point mark in this 2017 NCAA tournament duel.
Butler Does What It Does Best — Pulls Off The Big-Time Upset
It doesn’t matter who is coaching Butler, it is capable of knocking off any team in college hoops, and it will prove that once again by taking down No. 1 seed North Carolina. As a result, brackets will look even more brutal entering the Elite Eight.
Reminder: The Bulldogs have been pulling off upsets all season long, and no challenge is too big for this squad.
North Carolina, and the remaining 2017 NCAA tournament teams, you have been warned.
[Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]