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Mississippi State to Face Miami in Loaded Puerto Rico Tip-Off

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Ben Howland has a chance to make a major statement this November when the Bulldogs travel to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off

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Joining the likes of 2015 NCAA Tournament participants Butler and Utah, Mississippi State hopes to make an early season statement in their first ever Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Featuring teams from all five power conferences, as well as the Big East, AAC and Missouri Valley Conference, this tournament will be far from a lock for any of the teams participating.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Bracket 1:

Miami-Mississippi State

Texas Tech-Utah

Bracket 2:

Minnesota-Temple

Butler-Missouri State

State's side of the bracket features a first round matchup with a much improved, Jim Larranaga led Miami Hurricanes squad poised to make some noise in the ACC this season. Also featured on MSU's side of the bracket are the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Utah Utes. Texas Tech, while not nationally known as a basketball power, is still a force to be reckoned with if only because of their coach Tubby Smith. Utah is coming off a Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA Tournament where they fell to the eventual National Champions, the Duke Blue Devils.

Awaiting MSU in the championship game, if the Bulldogs were to make it that far, would likely be Butler, Minnesota or Temple. While Butler, the Cinderella story of years past, has managed itself well since the loss of coach Brad Stevens to the Celtics and should continue to flourish in the Big East, Minnesota and Temple have more question marks. Fran Dunphy is a basketball legend but has failed to win a conference championship since 2010 and hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2013. The Golden Golphers are hoping that Rick Pitino's basketball knowledge has left a mark on his son Richard as they enter the third year of his tenure still in search of his first NCAA Tourney bid.

While lacking in traditional basketball powerhouses, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off still has the potential to be one of the most entertaining early season tournaments of the basketball season. All of the teams included in this year's field have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament or NIT this season, with teams like Miami and Mississippi State poised to wreak some havoc in their perspective conferences.

The Puerto Rico Tip-Off begins November 19th and will be broadcast on one of ESPN networks. Mississippi State's remaining schedule is expected to be released in August.