Tuesday evening it was reported by ESPN.com that the matchups for the 2015 edition of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off have been determined, with 2014 NCAA tournament participants Butler and Utah among the eight teams headed to San Juan in mid-November.
Chris Holtmann’s Bulldogs, who fell to Notre Dame in the Round of 32 this past spring, will open with Missouri Valley Conference representative Missouri State. While Butler will have to account for the loss of contributors Kameron Woods and Alex Barlow, Kellen Dunham, Andrew Chrabascz and Roosevelt Jones are back and the team adds point guard Tyler Lewis to the mix. Lewis sat out last season after transferring in from NC State. Missouri State finished the 2014-15 season with an 11-20 record.
Also on that side of the bracket are Minnesota and Temple, with the Owls coming off of a Postseason NIT appearance and the Golden Gophers missing out on postseason play after winning the NIT in 2014. The Owls will have some key departures to account for, most notably all-conference guard Will Cummings, if they’re to contend in the American Athletic Conference. Minnesota also lost some key players from 2014-15, but sophomore guard Nate Mason will be back to lead the way.
On the other side of the bracket Utah was the most successful team in 2014-15, as they reached the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual national champion Duke. Delon Wright has moved on to the NBA, but Larry Krystkowiak welcomes back most of his rotation including center Jakob Poeltl, Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge. The Runnin’ Utes open with Texas Tech, which is looking to find its footing under Tubby Smith.
The other quarterfinal matchup may be the best one of the event, as it matches two teams looking to take a major step forward in 2015-16. Miami, which reached the title game of the Postseason NIT, returns the majority of its rotation and could potentially be an NCAA tournament team. They’ll take on Mississippi State, which has made major waves this offseason. Not only did the Bulldogs hire Ben Howland to take over as head coach, but they also landed one of the top prospects in the Class of 2015 in Malik Newman.
All eight teams will get to play three games in Puerto Rico, with the tournament beginning with a quarterfinal quadruple-header November 19. There will also be four games November 20, with the tournament concluding Sunday, November 22.