The Miami Hurricanes were a team many had entering the season in their top 25, and they have shown nothing to say otherwise, as the Hurricanes have dominated their opening two games by a combined score of 179-136. Things will only get more difficult for Miami, as they travel to San Juan to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The Bulldogs are a talented team with a former Final Four head coach in Ben Howland, but they’re coming off of a disappointing loss to the Southern Jaguars. This squad is more than capable of pulling off an upset over the Hurricanes, but they have to avoid making costly errors. Their defense has been a major issue, and unless that is corrected soon, it could be a long season for Mississippi State basketball.
The key matchup in this game will be between Gavin Ware and Tonye Jekiri on the inside. Jekiri isn’t an elite offensive player like Ware is by any means, but Ware must put up huge numbers inside if the Bulldogs are to pull off the upset and Jekiri must use his size and rebounding ability to stop him.
Although I have Miami winning this one, it should be noted that I expect this game to be far closer than most expect. Mississippi State has had the talent to be a decent team over the past few seasons, but they’ve failed to get it done in crunch time. Likewise, the Bulldogs are coming off of a loss to a team they should have crushed and will feel a win over Miami in a tournament setting could be redemption for their failure.
Prediction: Miami 77, Mississippi State 67