5 things to know about Arkansas's first-round opponent in NCAA Tournament
The Arkansas Razorbacks made it to the SEC Tournament semifinals before losing to a Tennessee team that shared a portion of the SEC’s regular-season title.
However, the Hogs did enough to make it to the NCAA Tournament, so now they can compete for an even bigger title.
Arkansas, a team that has made it to the Final Four six times, won the 1994 title under coach Nolan Richardson. This year, the Razorbacks are the No. 7 seed in the East Region. The Tigers will face Butler in the first round.
Here are 5 things to know about the Bulldogs.
How the Bulldogs got here
The Bulldogs aren’t the Cinderella team they once were under coach Brad Stevens, as new coach LaVall Jordan has them playing well in the Big East.
The Bulldogs played well with the big dogs in their new conference, going 20-13 and falling to tournament champion Villanova (an NCAA No. 1 seed) in the semifinals.
NCAA Tournament history
Butler famously made it to the Final Four in back to back years in 2010 and 2011, losing in the championship game each time — once to Duke and once to UConn.
This is the Bulldogs’ 15th March Madness appearance. Last year, they were a No. 4 seed, making it all the way to the Sweet 16 before losing to a North Carolina squad that went on to win the title.
Butler doesn’t waste many possessions. In fact, the Bulldogs ranked No. 18 in the country in terms of field goals made. That means they’re not settling for bad shots or making costly turnovers.
When games matter even more in March, that’s a good strength for the Bulldogs to have.
Must stop: Kelan Martin
The Bulldogs are led by the senior forward, who averages 20.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game (both team highs). Martin has gone over 20 points an impressive 19 times this year and has five double-doubles.
Butler goes as Martin goes, so if Arkansas can slow him down, it’ll have a much better chance to win.
Did you know?
The Bulldogs are not getting to the free-throw line much this year. In fact, of the 351 Division I teams, the Bulldogs rank No. 303 with only 536 attempts this season.
If it comes down to a free-throw battle, Butler’s inexperience may come back to haunt them.