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TBT 2020: The Basketball Tournament Preview

Willie Buford hopes to bring Carmen’s Crew to a second-straight TBT title.

Paris Levallois v Limoges - Pro A Photo by Andre Ferreira/Icon Sport via Getty Images

What Is TBT?

TBT (known formerly as “The Basketball Tournament”) is a single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament that is played annually for a massive cash prize, this year which comes in at over one million dollars.

While usually the field consists of 64 teams who compete in a handful of regionals and then work their way to the finals, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, this year’s event will be composed of just 24 teams and take place entirely in a quarantine-style set-up for players, coaches and staff.

The games will also take place without fans at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Who Plays In TBT?

Anyone. Literally anyone who is older than 18. While the teams participating are composed mostly of current or former professional players from around the world, the cool thing about TBT is that just about anyone can sign-up, make a team and take their shot at the big cash prize if they garner enough backing.

Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers
Seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson is one of the most recognizable talents partaking in the TBT 2020.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In general, you’ll see a good deal of “alumni teams”, a mix of former stand-outs at one school who have banded together to take their shot at the prize. The TBT 2020 field features alumni squads from Clemson, Dayton, Illinois, Marquette, Marshall, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Syracuse.

You’ll also notice a bunch of mix-and-match squads which features an assortment of professional players who usually have some sort of off-court connections (Overseas Elite, Team Brotherly Love, Big X, D2), as well as a list of teams who are playing for different charities or non-profits (Sideline Cancer, Team Challenge ALS, Playing for Jimmy V, Heartfire).

Is There An Oregon State Alumni Team Participating?

Sigh. Nope. We proposed the idea of an Oregon State alumni team playing back in 2018. You all voted on “The Dam Beavers” as a potential name and Gary Payton (an experienced Big 3 coach, of course) could be the head coach. His son could play on the squad, along with former Beavers like Drew Eubanks, Stephen Thompson Jr., Eric Moreland, Omari Johnson and hopefully even the brothers Schaftenaar. It would be amazing. So far though, no progress on an alumni team has been made sadly. I blame all the former players and team managers. Ok, not really.

Which Teams Are The Favorites?

The obvious pick for odds-on favorite is Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State Alumni) who claimed TBT 2019’s title. The team is coached by Jared Sullinger and features former Buckeye stars like Aaron Craft, David Lighty, Jon Biebler and last year’s MVP, Willie Buford. They’re slated as the #1 seed in the twenty-four team bracket and have all the makings of a possible back-to-back squad.

Connecticut v Syracuse
Veteran guard Eric Devendorf is Boeheim’s Army’s emotional leader on the floor.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

#4 seed Golden Eagles (Marquette Alumni) was the team that Carmen’s Crew bested in last year’s championship contest, who also brings back a similar depth chart. They’re considered legitimate challengers to Carmen’s Crew once again, along with #3 seed Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse Alumni), who boasts former Orange stars like Eric Devendorf, Brandon Triche, Malachi Richardson and Chris McCullough. However, due to seeding, Golden Eagles’s potential rematch with Carmen’s Crew would come in the semifinals, while Boeheim’s Army would avoid them until the very end.

If TBT has one dynasty, it would be #2 seed Overseas Elite, a squad composed of mostly international basketball stars who played their college basketball here stateside. The team has amassed a 29-1 overall record, won four of the tournament’s five titles in which they’ve been together for and reloaded their 2020 roster with a special influx of talent via former NBA All-Star Joe Johnson. Alongside Johnson, a superbly gifted crew includes Pooh Jeter, Glen Rice Jr., DJ Kennedy DeAndre Kane and more.

Philadelphia 76ers V New York Knicks
Former NBA player Tony Wroten adds a splash of talent to The Money Team.
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Other teams to watch include #7 seed The Money Team, which pairs veteran TBT general managers Dan Britten and T.J. Fredette with former boxer Floyd Mayweather, to put together a strong squad, anchored by Jordon Crawford, Jeff Ledbetter, Tony Wroten, Kyle Wiltjer, Nick Johnson, and Willie Reed. #21 seed Stillwater Stars (Oklahoma State Alumni) is also an intriguing newcomer to the field, composed of former Cowboys stand-outs Le’Bryan Nash, Brian Williams and Jeffrey Carroll, as well as former NBA guard Tyshawn Taylor and Houston alumni Armoni Brooks.

How Can I Watch TBT?

All games of the TBT will be televised on ESPN and ESPN2 each day, beginning on July 4th and ending on July 14th, with the exception of July 13th as the only rest day. The first game of the tournament will be at 12:00 PM PT on July 4th when #9 seed Big X take on #24 seed D2.

The full schedule of games for the whole TBT can be found here.