Florida State, Iowa State and South Carolina, a trio of schools slated for the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off, have earned berths in the 2017 NCAA Championships after posting 20-plus wins during the 2016-2017 collegiate basketball season along with San Juan-bound Illinois State.
The 2017 Tire Pros Invitational is scheduled for November 16, 17 and 19 in San Juan. Other schools competing in the three-day, 12-game bracketed in-season tournament will be Boise State (Mountain West Conference, 19-11), Tulsa (American Athletic, 15-17), UTEP (Conference USA, 15-17) and Western Michigan (Mid-American, 16-16).
Iowa State (Big 12, 23-10) captured the league post-season title Saturday in Kansas City by defeating West Virginia 80-74. The Cyclones, who will be competing in their 19th NCAA tournament with an 18-18 record, are seeded fifth in the East Regional and will play Mountain West champion Nevada in Milwaukee Thursday. The winner of the ISU-Nevada game will play either Purdue or Vermont in the third-round.
Florida State (Atlantic Coast, 25-8), which will be appearing in its 15th NCAA tournament (15-14 record), is seeded third in the West Regional and will play Atlantic Sun champion Florida Gulf Coast in Orlando Thursday. If the Seminoles win their opening NCAA gams, Florida State will meet either Maryland or Xavier in the third-round of the tournament.
South Carolina (Southeastern, 22-10) will be making its first NCAA appearance since the 2004 season and ninth over (4-9 record). The Gamecocks are seeded seventh and will play Big East at-large entry Marquette in a second-round game in Greenville, S. C. The USC-Marquette winner will challenge either Duke or Troy in the third-round.
Illinois State (Missouri Valley, 27-6) tied for the league’s regular-season title with Wichita State, but the Redbirds lost the conference post-season championship game to the Wheatshockers 71-51 in St. Louis. Illinois State was one of the last four school left out of the “big dance”, but gained one of the top four seeds in the NIT where the Redbirds host Big West runner-up UC Irvine Wednesday. The winner will play either UCF or Colorado in the second-round.
Boise State is the fifth school competing in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off field to advance in post-season competition as the Broncos join Illinois State in the NIT field. Utah of the Pac-12 hosts Boise State Tuesday with the winner of the game meeting either Illinois or Valparaiso in the second round.
Five of the eight coaches scheduled to lead their schools in the 2017 Tire Pros Invitational have previously mentored teams in the San Juan event. Tulsa coach Frank Haith led Miami to the 2007 title. Other coaches with experience in the tournament are Leonard Hamilton of Florida State, Frank Martin of South Carolina, Tim Floyd of UTEP and Steve Hawkins of Western Michigan.
Hamilton and Hawkins coached their schools in Puerto Rico in 2013 (third-place) and 2011 (eighth-place), respectively. Martin led Kansas State to a third-place finish in 2009 while Floyd’s Southern California team finished sixth in 2008.
Xavier (Big East, 21-13), the 2016 Tire Pros champions when the event was held his past November at the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., earned a spot in the 2017 NCAA Championships as the 11th-seeded school in the West Region where the Musketeers will play Maryland in Orlando.
After securing an 83-82 win over Missouri in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Tire Pros Invitational, Xavier defeated Clemson (83-77) and Northern Iowa (67-59) to capture the title. The Musketeers also captured the 2008 event when it was played in San Juan. Clemson earned a spot in the 2017 NIT where the Tigers will host Oakland Tuesday.
Other teams in the 2016 Tire Pros Invitational were Arizona State, Davidson, Oklahoma and Tulane.