Missouri State tabbed for third in the MVC (photo/Missouri State Athletics)

Missouri State men’s basketball (photo/Missouri State Athletics)

Missouri State men’s basketball coach Paul Lusk put the finishing touches on his team’s 2015-16 non-conference schedule. The 12-games will feature up to seven opponents that finished in the top 60 of the NCAA’s RPI last season with six NCAA Tournament foes and nine postseason qualifiers in all lined up for potential matchups with the Bears this winter.

“We have worked very hard to put together a competitive schedule for our team and our fans, and I think we have achieved that,” Lusk said. “We will have six home games against some quality teams like Tulsa and Utah State. And then we play three true road games – all against teams that played in the postseason last year. We are also excited to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November which is stacked topped to bottom, including three NCAA Tournament teams.”

The Bears won’t have to wait long to head south for the Ninth Annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off, opening at Oral Roberts on Nov. 13 before traveling to San Juan, Nov. 19-22.  The Puerto Rico Tip-Off will be played at Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan. Three teams in the field made NCAA Tournament runs in 2015, including Butler which was 23-11 overall with an RPI of 30. Utah finished with the No. 13 RPI in the Division I ranks last season after going 26-9, while Temple was 33rd with a 26-11 ledger. The field in San Juan also features Miami (Fla.) which advanced to Madison Square Garden in the 2015 NIT after a 25-13 season and RPI of 47.

The rest of the field includes Minnesota (18-15), Texas Tech (13-19) and Mississippi State (13-19). Pairings for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off will be announced in August with more tournament information and travel packages available at PuertoRicoTipoff.com.

Upon returning from Puerto Rico, MSU will play its home opener at JQH Arena on Friday, Nov. 27 against in-state NAIA foe William Woods to lead off six games at The Q in less than a month’s span.  December begins with a home matchup with Utah State in the revamped Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge. The Aggies finished 18-13 last season and will be playing the Bears for the first time.

The Bears travel to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Dec. 5 in what will be the fourth matchup between the two clubs in a six-year span. The Cowboys had the nation’s 59th-best RPI and are coming off an 18-14 campaign that culminated in an NCAA Tournament berth.

A three-game home stand follows with IUPUI (Dec. 10), Tulsa (Dec. 13) and Oral Roberts (Dec. 16) visiting JQH Arena in a week’s span. Tulsa boasted a top 50 RPI in 2014-15, finishing 23-11 overall with a run to the NIT.

Another NCAA Tournament foe awaits MSU on Saturday, Dec. 19 when the Bears travel to former Mid-Continent rival Valparaiso. The Crusaders finished 28-6 last season with a final RPI of 56. It will be the third contest between Missouri State and Valpo in the last six seasons.

The wrap up the non-conference portion of their schedule on Dec. 22 with a visit from long-standing rival Southeast Missouri State. The Redhawks and new head coach Rick Ray – who coached alongside Lusk as a fellow assistant at Purdue – will play the Bears for the 145th time in the longest-standing rivalry for the basketball Bears.

The 18-game Missouri Valley Conference portion of the schedule will be finalized and announced by the league later this summer. The MVC Tournament will return to Scottrade Center in St. Louis, March 3-6.

Story courtesy, Missouri State Athletics