The Butler Bulldogs (24-8) are the No. 4 seed in the South Region, and will take on No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State (32-4). The game will be played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Saturday, March 18.
Preview: The first round was mostly drama-free for Butler, something many teams, even top seeds, couldn't say on Thursday. The Bulldogs dispatched of No. 13 seed Winthrop 76-64 behind 18 points by guard Avery Woodson.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 16, 2017
MTSU is quickly becoming a mid-major that no team wants to see across the court in tournament play. After knocking off No. 2 seed Michigan State, one of the favorites of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, in last year's crazy first round, many believed that the Blue Raiders were under-seeded at 12 this year. They were one of the most popular upset picks in the first round, and came through for many brackets with Thursday's 81-72 win. Reggie Upshaw was the star, with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Date: Saturday, March 18
Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TBS
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Mike Gminski, Debbie Antonelli, Lisa Byington
Opening Betting Line: Butler -4, via OddsShark
According to College Basketball Reference, this will be the first ever match-up between Butler and Middle Tennessee State basketball.
Butler is participating in its fourth straight NCAA Tournament, but the Bulldogs haven't made a Sweet 16 since 2011. That year, Butler, led by current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, made its second straight Final Four and National Championship Game. Overall, the Bulldogs have made the Sweet 16 five times.
Middle Tennessee is in its ninth NCAA Tournament. The Blue Raiders have been in the Round of 32 six of those times, but have never advanced to the Sweet 16.
Prediction: This one should be extremely close. MTSU is 32-4, and that is not a fluke; this is a very strong mid-major program, like Butler has been in the past. While a late technical foul on Richard Pitino helped, the Blue Raiders controlled the game vs. Minnesota throughout. This feels like a coin flip, so we'll take the more established team, Butler, by a hair, but we don't feel great about it.
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