It's that time of year again ladies and gentlemen! What? You don't know? It's time for family get-togethers and early season college basketball tournaments.
So with these very exciting events about tip-off, VAVEL US's own Tyler Bennett and Peyton Wesner have decided to do a special "Sizzling in the Spotlight" for all twenty November tourneys, including the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
11:30 AM EST
1-1 Temple - 2-0 Minnesota (ESPNU)
Temple: 91-67 Loss - North Carolina
Minnesota: 67-56 Win - Louisiana-Monroe
Players to Watch:
Quenton DeCosey (SR)
---11.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, & 3.0 APG.
Joey King (SR)
---21.0 PPG & 6.0 RPG.
2:00 PM EST
1-0 22. Butler - 0-1 Missouri State (ESPNU)
Butler: 144-71 Win - The Citadel
Missouri State: 80-65 Loss @ Oral Roberts
Players to Watch:
Kellen Dunham (SR)
---24.0 PPG, & 2.0 SPG.
Chris Kendrix (SO)
---13.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, & 1.0 SPG.
5:00 PM EST
2-0 Miami (FL) - 1-1 Mississippi State (ESPN2)
Miami (FL): 93-77 Win - Louisiana-Lafayette
Mississippi State: 76-72 Loss - Southern
Players to Watch:
Sheldon McClellan (SR)
---17.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, & 2.0 SPG.
Malik Newman (FR)
---6.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, & 3.0 APG.
7:30 PM EST
2-0 16. Utah - 1-0 Texas Tech (ESPN2)
Utah: 81-76 Win - San Diego State
Texas Tech: 77-73 Win - High Point
Players to Watch:
Jakob Poeltl (SO)
---20.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, & 2.5 BPG.
Devaugntah Williams (SR)
---26.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, & 1.0 SPG.
The Temple Owls got pummeled in their season opener by the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, and will head to Puerto Rico in search of their first victory of the season. Minnesota, on the other hand, enters at 2-0 and has looked steady in both contests. Though, there’s still room for improvement. In the tournament opener, Temple will need to get Quenton DeCosey rolling on offense from the outset, and that will be the key to victory over the Golden Gophers.
---Temple 76, Minnesota 71
Butler, fresh off their record-setting performance of 144 points against The Citadel, will take their high-powered offense to Puerto Rico. This won’t be good news for the other teams in the field, especially the Missouri State Bears. While the Bears will hang around with Butler for a while, and could give them some fits on defense, Butler has too many weapons for this game to end without a Bulldogs’ win.
---Butler 90, Missouri State 73
The most intriguing showdown in the quarterfinals will feature the Miami Hurricanes and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Freshman point guard Malik Newman has been eased into action with the Bulldogs this season, and his play against Miami could be a big factor in the end result. This is the toughest game to predict, because it could truly go either way. In the end, the play of Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan will carry the Hurricanes to a victory.
---Miami (FL) 80, Mississippi State 75
Utah is arguably the best team in this tournament, and certainly brings with them the most national attention, being ranked comfortably inside the top 25. With Jakob Poeltl leading an experienced team that returns four starters from last season’s Sweet 16 team, the Utes will be a front-runner to win this year’s tournament. Texas Tech will give them a test, but Utah will cruise to an easy victory.
---Utah 84, Texas Tech 70
---Butler 84, Temple 75
---Utah 77, Miami (FL) 70
With two high-profile programs, and two loaded starting lineups, what else does one need in an early season tournament? Utah and Butler will go toe-to-toe after disposing some of the top-tier challengers in their own right (Temple and Miami), and it will be a great showdown. Utah’s schedule leading up to the tournament will have them more battle-tested than the Bulldogs, which will give them a slight edge in this. Larry Krystkowiak will need someone else to step up on offense, like Brandon Taylor or Brekkott Chapman, to take the pressure off of Poeltl and Jordan Loveridge. Expect that to happen while Utah does just enough on defense to come away victorious.
---Utah 78, Butler 75
What a hard game to pick! Through this journalist's eyes, Minnesota and Temple match up very evenly to one another as they both have experienced scorers, such as Joey King and Devin Coleman, in addition to quality facilitators in Nate Mason and Josh Brown. So with the following in consideration, this contest will be decided by the simple things such as who makes the higher percent of free throws and who gets the most 50/50 balls. Ultimately, in a closer than close game, Joey King will be clutch and lead the Golden Gophers to a semi-final meeting with Butler or Missouri State.
---Minnesota 64, Temple 63
Let's be blunt, Missouri State starting point guard Dequon Miller had a very rough opening night against Oral Roberts on Friday (1 for 3 from field, 3 points). This afternoon will be much better. Miller, who has the potential to fill in perfectly for Marcus Marshall (transferred to Nevada) at the guard spot, is the only player capable of keeping this one close in San Juan. Unfortunately, he even won't be able to as Kellen Dunham's Butler Bulldogs are coming off a school record 144 points against The Citadel and licking their chops to score as many points as possible. Run on Bulldogs!
---Butler 75, Missouri State 57
In the upset of Monday night, Southern University traveled to Starksville and spoiled "fab freshman" Malik Newman's debut 76-72. Today, the Hurricanes will destroy the Bulldogs' hopes of a Puerto Rico Tip-Off title. Miami, who returned three of their highest scorers from last season including defensive anchor Tonye Jekiri, is not only looking to be an NCAA Tournament team this year but a contender for the ACC crown. With the aforementioned Jerkiri in the paint to contain Gavin Ware, Ben Howland will find his team looking for points on the perimeter. Unfortunately, not too many will come since Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez will own the backcourt battle.
---Miami (FL) 76, Mississippi State 67
Jakob Poeltl and Jordan Loveridge! That is almost unfair against Texas Tech and Devaugntah Williams. With their win versus San Diego State on Monday night, the Utes proved to the nation they will once again not be easily defeated this season. With the great big man/guard duo previously mentioned, Utah will have no trouble stepping over Tubby Smith's Red Raiders in route to the semi-finals.
---Utah 74, Texas Tech 64
---Butler 69, Minnesota 60
---Utah 68, Miami (FL) 66
When the bracket was released in the later stages of summer, this journalist was already turning his sights to a Utah/Butler championship. His prediction has not changed. Even though Utah will be greatly challenged by the Miami Hurricanes, who are more than capable to hoist the hardware on Sunday, a day of rest will rejuvenate the team and lead to a great weekend. While the guard combo of Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones is a match made in heaven, because Dunham can tickle the twine from outside while Jones is a drive first bowling ball, the height of the Bulldogs' frontcourt is concerning. Although Andrew Chrabascz and Kelan Martin, who combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds in the opener, can hang around with the best in the Big East, they are both four inches shorter than Poeltl! Expect Poeltl, barring foul trouble, to post at least 17 points and 12 rebounds while Jordan Loveridge holds his own against Jones.
---Utah 64, Butler 62
Point System for Puerto Rico Tip-Off:
1 pt for each quarterfinal win
2 pts for each semi final win
4 pts for correctly choosing the champion
1. Bennett 39 pts (37-13)
2. Wesner 38 pts (37-13)