Los Bulldogs de Butler y Osos del Estado de Missouri toman la corte el jueves en la primera ronda del Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
For those of you who don't understand Spanish, the Butler Bulldogs and Missouri State Bears take the court Thursday in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. This is the second straight year Butler had played their Preseason Tournament outside the continental United States, as last year they were in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Here are three things to watch.
Butler's Tournament Success
The Bulldogs have been a curious case in preseason tournaments in the past few years. They haven't won one since the Great Alaska Shootout in 2007 (or the Diamond Head Classic in 2010, but that was over Christmas, not Thanksgiving), but every year they make the most of their appearances, generally upsetting a team or two along the way.
Take last year, for example. The Bulldogs beat top-10 ranked North Carolina in the opening round, fell to Oklahoma, then defeated Georgetown.
Before December rolled around, Butler had two quality victories. This year, though, things are a bit different.
For starters, the field of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off isn't as loaded as the Battle 4 Atlantis was last season. That, however, can also be a blessing for the Bulldogs. If you go by the AP rankings, they're the second best team in this tournament behind Utah. If the Bulldogs and Utes both take care of business in their first two games, we're all in for a treat on Sunday.
Get to Know Missouri State
The Bears dropped their opening night matchup to Oral Roberts by a score of 80-65, but they had a couple bright spots.
Freshman center Obediah Chruch had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots, which is something Butler may want to be cautious of.
Forward Chris Kendrix led the Bears with 13 points. Missouri State and Butler have played three times in the past, with Butler leading the all-time series 2-1. However, Missouri State won the last time these two faced off, 72-57, in November 1998.
Missouri State's leading scorer last season, Marcus Marshall (19.5 PPG) has transferred to Nevada.
Back to Work for Butler
Coming off their 144 point outburst against The Citadel to open the season, the Bulldogs will face a tougher test in the Bears.
Missouri State had 37 rebounds against Oral Roberts, compared to The Citadel's 28 against Butler.
Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones should see more action in this game, so it will be interesting to see how they continue to develop throughout the season. It will also be interesting to see how the shortened workload in the opener impacted their conditioning, if at all.