NCAA South Regional preview: North Carolina vs. Butler; UCLA vs. Kentucky

A look at how the teams match up in the NCAA tournament's South Regional semifinals in Memphis, Tenn., on Friday night.

No. 1 North Carolina (29-7) vs. No. 4 Butler (25-8)


Time: 4:09 p.m. PDT. TV: Channel 2

Bottom line: In a regional where the top four seeded teams all reached the round of 16 and the top three — North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA — are college basketball blue bloods, No. 4 Butler is the blue bulldog.

It's traditional: North Carolina of the Atlantic Coast Conference is tied for third with five championships and has been to more Final Fours (19) than any other school. Butler, out of the Big East, hasn't won an NCAA title, but the Bulldogs have been tournament darlings in recent seasons, reaching the national championship game in 2010 and 2011. "I happen to think right now, Butler is better than any of them, and that's the team we're getting ready to play," Williams said.

The coaches: Williams is one of basketball's most respected coaches. Butler's Chris Holtmann, 45, is in only his third season as a head coach. "Between [Williams] and I, we have eight Final Fours, two national championships, about 15 Sweet Sixteens and a ton of conference championships and over 900 wins," Holtmann quipped. "So, somebody is going to be really calm come opening tip, and somebody is going to be really nervous. I'll let you figure that out."

Been there: This isn't North Carolina's first time in Memphis for a regional semifinal as a top-seeded team. In 2009, the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga and Oklahoma on the way to their last national championship.

--Associated Press

No. 3 UCLA (31-4) vs. No. 2 Kentucky (31-5)

Time: 6:40 p.m. PDT. TV: Channel 2

Turning it over: UCLA would prefer not to repeat one aspect of its 97-92 victory over Kentucky in December at Rupp Arena: turnovers. The Bruins coughed up the ball 18 times, something that has not been an issue in the NCAA tournament, when they've been responsible for just nine turnovers in two games.

Keeping pace: Neither side appears to want to slow down the other in the fourth meeting between the teams in the last three seasons; the Bruins have won two of the first three. "Let's go," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. "Let's play to 120." The Bruins might just get there if point guard Lonzo Ball continues his superlative play from the first two rounds, when he made 13 of 17 shots (76.5%) while averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and only 1.0 turnover per game.

No surprises: UCLA power forward TJ Leaf deserves bold print in the Kentucky game plan after going for 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the first meeting this season. "I just didn't know all the things he could do," Wildcats forward Derek Willis said. "He kind of surprised me in a sense."

--Zach Helfand