AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men's basketball team has been selected as one of eight teams to participate in the 2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 15-18, 2012, in historic and picturesque San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Zips will be joined in the field by Massachusetts, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Providence, Tennessee and UNC Asheville. Games are held on Thursday, Nov. 15, Friday, Nov. 16 and Sunday, Nov. 18. There are no tournament games on Saturday, Nov. 17. The bracket for the event will be announced at a later date.
"We are excited to be heading to Puerto Rico to play in this great tournament," Akron head coach Keith Dambrot said. "This will be a tremendous challenge for our program. The field is full of very talented teams that are well-coached, which should make for some great basketball."
The event will be Akron's second trip to Puerto Rico for a regular season tournament, but the first for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Zips played in the 2005 San Juan Shootout (Dec. 19-21), defeating Mount St. Mary's 74-61 and Mississippi State 83-72 before falling to Clemson 66-59. This is also the second-straight season that a Mid-American Conference program has participated in the six-year-old event as Western Michigan competed in the 2011 edition.
Akron closed out the 2011-12 season with a 22-12 record (13-3 MAC) and captured the first MAC regular season title in program history. The Zips advanced to their sixth-straight MAC title game – a conference record and second-longest active streak in the nation – before falling 64-63 to Ohio. Akron appeared in its fifth NIT, third under head coach Keith Dambrot, falling 76-74 to Northwestern in the first round.
The Zips are one of 17 teams nationally that have won at least 20 games in each of the past seven seasons. The other 16 teams to do so are Brigham Young, Butler, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Marquette, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Syracuse, Texas, Utah State and Xavier.
The Puerto Rico Tip-Off is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, Inc., a subsidiary of ESPN.
The family-friendly tournament and resort destination of Puerto Rico host the teams to three days of play, practices and immersion into the Puerto Rican culture and landscape. Additional information can be found on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Web site (www.puertoricotipoff.com).
Information on fan travel packages – including hotel accommodations, game day transportation, an all-session pass to the games and access to an exclusive banquet reception with the players and coaches (limited availability) – will be forthcoming.
Official practice for the 2012-13 season will begin on Friday, October 12. The non-conference and Mid-American Conference portions of the schedule will be released later this summer.
2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off Participants
Massachusetts: The Minutemen posted a 25-12 overall record and a 9-7 mark in the Atlantic 10 last season to earn a spot in the NIT. UMass advanced to the semifinals of the NIT before falling 74-64 to Stanford.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack complied a 24-13 record (9-7 ACC) en route to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament, falling 60-57 to eventual national runner-up Kansas.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys enter the 2012-13 campaign following a 15-18 campaign, including a 7-11 mark in the Big 12. OSU concluded its season with an 88-70 loss to Missouri in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions will look to improve following a 12-20 record in 2011-12 (4-14 Big Ten). PSU was knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament in the first round by Indiana by a score of 75-58.
Providence: The Friars, the only team in the 2012 field to have played in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off before (2007), finished last season with a 15-17 mark (4-14 BIG EAST). Providence was knocked out of the BIG EAST Tournament in the first round by Seton Hall.
Tennessee: The Volunteers are one of three teams to appear in the NIT in this year's field. Tennessee dropped a 71-64 contest to Middle Tennessee in the second round of the NIT to finish its campaign 19-15, 10-6 in the SEC.
UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs nearly pulled off the biggest upset in March Madness history, falling 72-65 to No. 1 seed Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. UNCA concluded the season with a 24-10 record (16-2 Big South).