THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT 2017 SEMIFINALS
6pm Central: Scarlet & Gray vs Team Challenge ALS
8pm Central: Overseas Elite vs Boeheim’s Army
Yes, yes, the Marquette alumni were bounced from The Basketball Tournament last week Sunday. However, TBT rolls on without them as four teams are charging forward in their attempt to snag the $2 million winner-take-all prize.
Tonight’s first semifinal game features Scarlet & Gray, the Ohio State alumni team that knocked off the MU guys, taking on Team Challenge ALS. While it’s not a surprise to find the Midwest’s #2 seed in the semis, Team Challenge ALS is the official Cinderella of the final four squads. They had the #6 seed in the West region and knocked off the #3, #2, and #4 seeds in the region in their last three games in order to get here. That includes the pretty stacked Stickmen squad and the Gonzaga alumni team, so Team Challenge knows how to overcome the odds.
With Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan behind them as a booster and Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison running things from the sideline, Team Challenge has won their first four games in TBT by an average of 14.8 points. They got through the Super 16 and quarterfinal round without GM/player Sean Marshall, who had to sit out with an injury, but he could be back tonight. The former Boston College forward averaged 22 points and 8 rebounds in their first two games, and would be a huge boost for them here. Otherwise, keep your eyes on Austin Daye and Casper Ware. Daye has been averaging 10 & 6 for Team Challenge, and Ware is scoring nearly 16 points a game for them, even though he’s just 5’10”.
As Marquette fans, we’re all aware that Jared Sullinger is the impact player for Scarlet & Gray. The Ohio native went for 15/8/2 against Golden Eagles in the quarterfinals and seems to be 100% back from the foot injuries that limited him to just 11 games for the Toronto Raptors this past season. Aaron Craft is doing Aaron Craft things for the Buckeyes, averaging 11/7/5. They might not be lighting up the scoreboard like the other three semifinalists, but if S&G is going to score 1.18 points per possession like they did against Marquette, they’re going to be hard to beat.
The other game of the night is clearly the headline matchup of the semifinals, as it features Overseas Elite, the two-time defending TBT champions. If you’re watching this game and OE goes down big early, don’t turn it off. It’s not the best thing to have as a hallmark, but this crew of professional veterans from around the globe have this knack of clawing their way back into a game. Think about it this way: OE trailed by 10 in the second half against Ram Nation in the quarterfinals, but still won by 8 after leading by 10 with less than a minute to play. See what I mean? It probably helps that they have a roster stacked with guys who were name players in college: Dejuan Blair, DeAndre Kane, and Kyle Fogg make up their core.
If you think that cheering for the two-time defending champs is boring and not fun, well, Overseas Elite is playing Boeheim’s Army, aka the Syracuse alumni, aka the easily most hateable team still left standing if not TBT as a whole. CJ Fair, Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, and last but absolutely certainly not least, Eric Devendorf. Only the most hardcore SU fans want these guys to walk away with the cash prize at the end. Worst of all? These dorks actually play the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone on defense.