Over the past couple of years, you've probably heard about The Basketball Tournament. It's open for anyone to enter, and as long as you can round up seven players and get enough votes on the TBT website, you're at least going to get into the first round. How long your team lasts in the tourney, though, that depends on who you get to play for you. In the past two years, a team made up of Notre Dame alumni and a team composed of a variety of players with overseas hoops experience have captured the title, and the cash prize to go along with it.
This year, though, things have changed. Marquette reached out to former Golden Eagle and retired pro baller Dan Fitzgerald to organize an entry in this year's TBT, and here's the good news: It looks like they're going to play.
Fitzgerald has rounded up seven players - Maurice Acker, Dwight Burke, Davante Gardner, Darius Johnson-Odom, Trent Lockett, Jerel McNeal, and Jamil Wilson - to play under the Golden Eagles Alumni banner. In addition, Steve Novak has signed on as the official team booster, and Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Wesley Matthews has agreed to coach the team. Seven players is the minimum to be a team that's eligible to play in the tournament, so from there, Golden Eagles Alumni just need votes to get in the field.
The Basketball Tournament is a 64 team event this year, split into four regions: Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. The teams with the top 11 vote totals in each region will be entered into the field automatically, where they'll be joined by the 2015 regional champion, three at-large bid teams, and the regional winner of TBT's charity fundraiser. As things stand right now on May 19, Golden Eagles Alumni is ranked 7th in the Midwest with 781 votes. There is one ineligible team ahead of them, but The Bluegrass Boys, a group of Kentucky alumni, have until June 1 to get themselves up to the minimum of seven players. A team of Bradley University alums sit in 11th place with 673 votes, which is the unofficial cutoff point with 13 days left to gather votes.
That's where you, the Marquette fan, comes in. Golden Eagles Alumni could still use your vote if you haven't voted already. Sure, they seem to be solidly in right now, but more votes never hurts. There's an upside for you, by the way. If GEA were to win the tournament, 10% of that $2 million prize would be split up amongst the people who vote for the team.... and the people who do the most recruiting for the team. You get one point for your vote, but you also get one additional point for every person that you recruit to vote for the team. From taking a glance at the fan standings right now, it looks like merely getting two friends to vote for Golden Eagles Alumni would net you a cool $1,000 if they win the tournament. If you've got 12 friends, you can jump into the top 5, which means you'd get $10,000. It'll take some doing, but if you can round up 133 friends, then you'd take over the top spot, which translates into $20,000, but only if the team wins. If they lose at any point, you get zilch. Then again, it's free to vote, so that's quite the possible return on your investment.
So. Go here: https://www.thetournament.com/teams/golden-eagles-alumni-marquette-alumni and follow the on screen instructions to register, log in, and vote for Golden Eagles Alumni to ensure they make it into the tournament. As long as they stay in the top 11, they'll play in the Chicago regional, which will take place on July 16 and 17 at The Shannon Center at St. Xavier University. You can buy tickets for the Chicago regional (or any of the regionals, or the championship rounds) by heading to this link right here.
You can keep track of how the voting is going as well as possible future additions to the team by following Golden Eagles Alumni on Twitter: @GoldenEaglesTBT