THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT 2018
#1 Overseas Elite vs #3 Golden Eagles
Third time was the charm for Golden Eagles, the Marquette alumni team, when it came to participation in The Basketball Tournament. In their first two appearances in the winner-take-all summer event, Golden Eagles had reached the quarterfinals of TBT, only to fall at the hands of another alumni team. 2018 is different, though, as Travis Diener was money from distance to push the Marquette alumni to the Target Score and send them on to their first appearance in TBT’s semifinals.
Their path to the championship game will not be an easy one, however.
Standing in between Golden Eagles and one final game to win $2 million dollars is Overseas Elite. That’s 2017 TBT champion Overseas Elite. That’s 2016 and 2015 TBT champion Overseas Elite. They’ve now won 23 straight games in TBT and have secured $5 million in prize money. They’re really good, they have no fear of anyone, and for all of the obvious reasons, they will come into this game believing that they can win their 24th straight game.
They’re not doing this by accident, by the way. D.J. Kennedy is TBT’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Granted, he has played more games than anyone in TBT history, so that kind of helps. He’s not doing it alone, though, as Errick McCollum and Kyle Fogg are #2 and #3 on that all-time chart.
While their 23 game winning streak is a monolith that will likely never be touched again as TBT continues, it’s not like Overseas Elite has been rampaging through the competition. They beat Monarch Nation by just 10 in the second round this year, and Louisiana United very nearly pulled off the upset in the Super 16 round before falling 87-86. The argument can be made that two very dubious refereeing calls during the Elam Ending secured the win for the three-time champs in that game.
Close calls have been frequent in OE’s TBT run. They won last year’s title game by only three points after beating Boeheim’s Army by just four points in the semifinals. That was after they trailed by double digits in the second round and had to fight for a 10 point win in the first round. In 2016, Overseas Elite had a seven point win in the second round and they needed to rally from a 17 point deficit in the championship game against Team Colorado. On their way to their first title, OE had wins of six, three, five, nine, five, and two points. The good news for Marquette is that Overseas Elite doesn’t put opposing teams away with dominance. The bad news is that the three-time champs keep ending up as the team celebrating a hard fought win when the final horn sounds.
The Overseas Elite/Golden Eagles winner will advance to Friday night’s $2 million championship game, where they will face either Team Fredette, led by Jimmer Fredette (duh) or Eberlein Drive. The Drive are the #7 seed coming out of the West region, and thus, are the Cinderella of the last four teams left standing. However, with Christian Watford and Lou Amundson on the roster, it’s not like they’re standing short on talent, either. Jerome Randle, who led the team in scoring with 29 in their quarterfinals win over #1 seed Team Challenge ALS, attended California, and they’ve got a crew of guys who all played at the D1 level.
TBT SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE (all times Central)
6pm: #1 Overseas Elite vs #3 Golden Eagles (ESPN)
8pm: #2 Team Fredette vs 37 Eberlein Drive (ESPN)