Seven of eight schools participating in the 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off will conclude their 2014-2015 regular-season schedule this week while Missouri State will be playing in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships starting Thursday in St. Louis against Southern Illinois. Other schools completing in the ninth annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off (November 19, 20 and 22) will be Butler (Big East), Miami (Atlantic Coast), Minnesota (Big Ten), Mississippi State (Southeastern), Temple (American Athletic), Texas Tech (Big 12) and Utah (Pac-12).
Butler – Ranked 21st in both national polls, the 21-9 Bulldogs conclude the regular-season at No. 24/23 Providence Saturday. Butler is currently tied for second in the Big East standings with an 11-6 record with the conference tournament set for New York’s famed Madison Square Garden March 11-14. Underclassmen Kellen Dunham (6-6 junior guard, 16.7 points per game) and Roosevelt Jones (6-4 junior forward, 12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game) and Andrew Chrabascz (6-7 sophomore forward, 11.0 points per game) are the Bulldog’s top three scorers.
Miami – The Hurricanes, who captured the inaugural Puerto Rico Tip-Off title in 2007 by defeating Providence in the finals is currently 18-11 overall and 8-8 in the ACC. Miami concludes the regular-season on the road at Pittsburgh Wednesday and Virginia Tech Saturday before entering the ACC post-season March 10-14 in Greensboro, N. C. Juniors guards 6-5 Sheldon McClellan (14.9 points per game) and Angel Rodriguez (12.3 points and 4.2 assists per game) are Miami’s top two scorers. Born in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez played high school basketball in Miami before competing two seasons at Kansas State. Rodriguez sat out the 2013-2014 season in Coral Gables. Jim Larrañaga will coaching his second school in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off after winning one of three games with George Mason in 2009.
Minnesota – The 17-12 Gophers, who played this past November in the Armed Forces Classic at the Puerto Rican Coast Guard base in Aguadilla against Louisville, will be making its second appearance in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off after winning the 2010 event. Minnesota, 6-10 in Big Ten play, concludes the regular-season at home against No. 6/5 Wisconsin Thursday and Penn State Sunday. The conference tournament is set for March 11-15 in Chicago. Juniors Carlos Morris (6-4 guard, 11.3 points per game) and Joey King (6-9 forward, 9.1 points per game) and freshman Nate Mason (6-1 guard, 9.6 points per game) rank among the Gophers top five point producers this season.
Mississippi State – The12-17 Bulldogs complete the regular-season Wednesday at Vanderbilt and Saturday at home against Missouri. With a 5-11 league mark, Mississippi State will compete in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville March 11-15. Four of the Bulldogs’ top five scores are underclassmen, including juniors Craig Sword (6-3 guard, 10.4 points per game), Gavin Ware (6-9 forward, 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game), and Fred Thomas (6-5 guard, 9.6 points per game), and freshman I. J. Ready (5-11 guard, 8.0 points and 2.3 assists per game).
Missouri State– The Bears completed the regular-season with an 11-19 overall mark with a 5-13 league mark to be seeded eighth in the Missouri Valley post-season tournament. If Missouri State defeats Southern Illinois in the MVC opener, the Bears will play top-seeded and No. 8 Wichita State Friday in the quarter-finals. Junior Camyn Boone is the Bears’ top underclassman as the 6-6 forward is the Bears’ second-leading scorers (8.6 points per game) and paces Missouri State in rebounding (5.3 per game) and field goal percentage (58.0, 98 for 169, 62nd nationally).
Temple – The Owls will be playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off for the third-time after splitting six games in their previous two San Juan appearances in 2007 and 2011. Temple has a 20-9 mark this season entering their final two American Athletic games at East Carolina Thursday and at home Saturday against Connecticut. The Owls are 11-5 in league play with the AAC’s post-season set for March 12-15 in Hartford, Conn. Guards Will Cummings (6-2 sophomore, 13.8 points and 4.2 assists per game) and Quenton DeCosey (6-5 junior, 12.2 points per game) are the Owls top two scores.
Texas Tech – Tubby Smith will be returning to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with his second school as he coached Minnesota to the 2010 title by defeating Western Kentucky, Minnesota and West Virginia. The 13-17 Red Raiders play their final regular-season game at Baylor Friday before next week’s Big 12 Conference post-season event March 11-14 in Kansas City. With nine underclassmen among the team’s top 10 scorers, junior Devaugntah Williams leads the Red Raiders as the 6-4 guard is averaging 10.1 points per game.
Utah – The 22-6 Utes join Butler as the two nationally-ranked schools in the 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off field as Utah is listed 13th in both polls. With a 12-4 league mark, Utah concludes the regular-season with road games at Washington State Thursday and Washington Saturday before the Pac-12 tourney in Las Vegas March 11-14. Juniors Brandon Taylor (5-10 guard, 10.4 points per game.) and Jordan Loveridge (6-6 forward, 9.9 points per game) are the Utes top underclassmen. Jakob Poeltl ranks as one of the nation’s top freshman as the 7-1 center is averaging 8.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Poeltl ranks fifth nationally in field goal percentage (67.1, 96 for 143).