The biggest issue with Heels on Wednesday was effort. Neither team played particularly well; Kellen Dunham, leading scorer for the Bulldogs, shot 3-17 from the field and 1-10 from 3. Marcus Paige had 18 points but took 17 shots to get there. Both squads had 24 fouls and 19 turnovers a piece. It was ugly. But in the end, Butler just played harder. The Bulldogs had twice as many offensive rebounds as UNC and converted 72% of their free throws compared to the Heels’ 56%.
Carolina looked like a top 5 team that expected to win for all the wrong reasons. They looked like a team that thought they would win because they were more talented. They looked like a team that thought they would win because they were ranked higher. Most of all, they looked like a team that thought they would win because they were supposed to. By the time they realized that things weren’t going to just work themselves out, Butler had already taken the game by the horns, and it was too late.
In the end, this isn’t a huge deal for Roy Williams’ team. They’re still going to compete for the ACC championship. They’re still going to make the tournament. They still have a great shot of competing for a national title. However, they’re going to have to play like a team that wants to go earn victories instead of just assuming the wins will come, and it needs to start today against #22 UCLA.