Puerto Rico Tip-Off Preview and Predictions

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Nov 14, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Butler Bulldogs guard Kelan Martin (30) and The Citadel Bulldogs guard Warren Sledge (5) fight for position under the basket at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament begins opening-round play Thursday, and along with catching some rays, the Butler Bulldogs are looking to notch three straight victories in three days and return home as champions.

Butler faces a 0-1 Missouri State squad in their first game of the tournament, and barring a complete and utter breakdown, should cruise into Friday’s semifinal matchup.

Missouri State opened its season with a 65-80 loss to Oral Roberts in a game where no single player for the Bears scored more than 13 points. And while balanced scoring is typically encouraged among mid-major teams – and most collegiate teams for that matter – it’s tough to win against any team when only three of your players score in double figures, and even more so when those three players are non-starters.

However, the Bears did have one bright spot in the loss, which came in the form of a 10 rebound, five block, and four point performance from 6-foot-7-inch forward Obediah Church. The freshman played the third most minutes of anyone on the roster and pulled down three offensive rebounds. Butler needs to keep Church in check on the boards if they intend to get and maintain a healthy lead.

The Bulldogs should also be wary of 6-foot-5-inch sophomore Chris Kendrix, who hit two of three from downtown and five of eight from the charity stripe. Kendrix logged more minutes against Oral Roberts than all but one starter.

–= Related: Butler Shatters Records in 144-71 Win Over The Citadel =–

After last week’s 144-71 annihilation of The Citadel, it’s tough to imagine Butler having the slightest bit of trouble in this matchup. Expect the ‘Dawgs to keep it close until the first media timeout and then begin to pull away at a rapid pace – similar to what they did in Saturday’s victory.

Next: Game One Preview and Predictions