UNC Asheville replaces Southern Miss in Puerto Rico Tip-Off field

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It didn’t take very long for there to be a change in the field for November’s Puerto Rico Tip-Off, as UNC Asheville will replace Southern Miss in the eight-team field.

No word as to what prompted the change, but Donnie Tyndall’s first season in Hattiesburg won’t include a trip to San Juan.

The Tip-Off will still boast two 2012 NCAA tournament teams with the change however, as UNC Asheville reached the tournament as Big South champions.

Led by Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm, Eddie Biedenbach’s team put up a serious fight before ultimately falling to East region top seed Syracuse in Pittsburgh.

UNC Asheville will be replacing their top three scorers from last season with guard Chris Stephenson also graduating, so much of the scoring responsibilities will fall to Jeremy Atkinson (11.7 ppg) and Jaron Lane (11.5 ppg).

NC State, the other NCAA tournament team in the field, will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Tip-Off with Massachusetts and Tennessee (2012 Postseason NIT participants) being two teams to keep an eye on.

Akron returns five of their top six scorers from a team that won the MAC regular season title last year and Oklahoma State returns Le’Bryan Nash while adding guards Phil Forte and Marcus Smart.

Two young teams in Penn State and Providence complete the eight-team field, with play beginning on November 15.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.