Basketball is back!
The very popular Basketball Tournament (TBT) released its bracket earlier today. YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles Alumni have the #4 seed in the field and will be benefiting from a first round bye granted to the top 8 seeds. They got a lot of love from the selection committee and will go straight through to the round of 16 in this 24 team tournament. NEAT!
The Golden Eagles are in Quadrant 2 and will be playing the winner of the first round game between #13 seed Team CP3 and #20 seed Mid-American Unity. There’s a lot of stuff to unpack here but I’ll start with praising TBT for figuring out a way to safely hold a basketball tournament amidst the coronavirus pandemic that will be entertaining for both the players and the fans. The entire tournament will be played over 10 days from July 4-14 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It will be a single-elimination tournament featuring 24 teams including your Golden Eagles Alumni. More details about the location, schedule, and safety protocols can be found here. This will be the first competitive basketball action that America will see since COVID-19 shut down the world of sports.
I cannot express how excited I am for this tournament so let’s just dive right into it.
First things first: The actual bracket reveal broadcasted live on Twitter and Facebook by TBT was very entertaining. It was moderated by TBT representative Chris Vosters and had the household broadcasting names of Fran Fraschilla, Seth Greenberg, and Tim Scarborough all providing analysis. They also had some player guests join the show including our very own Travis Diener. He talked about his routine of drinking a cold beer (or two) postgame, his experience overseas, and what makes Marquette special. Now there’s been some rumors (spurred by some very strong hinting by multiple parties on social media) that Marquette legend Dwyane Wade may be a late addition to the Golden Eagle team. Diener was asked if he had any insider information on whether Wade will be joining the team. Diener said he’s still hopeful Wade will come aboard but cited the pandemic as a major reason why Wade may choose to stay home. Makes every bit of sense but it would still be amazing to see Wade back in blue and gold for this event because that would all but certainly ensure a championship and that $1 million winner-take-all prize for the Golden Eagles.
One thing I wish I could have seen was the original bracket revealed by region (or quadrant in this case) right away like we’ve seen the NCAA Tournament do regularly. It took a while to realize which quadrant the Golden Eagle Alumni would be playing in since the original reveal just listed the 24 teams seeded 1-24 and they only got into the quadrant matchups later in the show. But personal preference aside, it was a very well done bracket reveal.
Last year, Golden Eagle Alumni, led by head coach Joe Chapman, had an amazing run all the way to the TBT title game before falling to a very good Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State alumni) team 66-60. The Golden Eagles have been consistently very good in TBT, reaching the semifinals in 2018 and the quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017. There’s every reason to believe that the title game and even a championship is in reach this summer. The TBT bracket masters seem to agree, seeding the Golden Eagles 4th which means they believe this team has the potential to at least make the semifinals.
The #4 seeded Golden Eagles Alumni will get a first round bye and will play their first game on Monday July 6th. As mentioned earlier, they will play the winner of the round of 24 contest between #13 Team CP3 and #20 Mid American Unity. Team CP3 is coached by, you guessed it, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul. They have former North Carolina standouts Kennedy Meeks and PJ Hairston on the roster as well as former Georgetown guard LJ Peak. Meanwhile, Mid-American Unity consists of a slew of Kent State and University of Akron alumni. Last year, Mid-American Unity beat Kohl-Blooded (aka the Wisconsin alumni team) in the first round but lost in their second round game to Red Scare (aka the Dayton alumni team). Team CP3 got a little further in last year’s TBT beating Tampa 20/20 and the Clemson alumni squad in the first two rounds before losing to Team Hines in the regional final. Both of these teams are experienced in this format and will present a challenge to the Golden Eagles in the round of 16.
Eberlein Drive joins the Golden Eagles’ quadrant as the #5 seed and will play the winner of #12 Brotherly Love and #21 Stillwater Stars, with the winner of that Round of 16 game advancing to potentially face off against the Marquette guys. It’s a little early to project ahead as to these matchups but it’s important to note that Eberlein Drive made it to the quarterfinals last year where they lost to the eventual champions Carmen’s Crew. Eberlein Drive has a trio of LSU alumni that includes guard Tim Quarterman, center Johnny O’Bryant III, and forward Emmitt Williams. They also picked up Xavier alum J.P. Macura, who’s a very familiar (and hateable) face for MU fans.
Who is playing this year for Golden Eagles? Well, let me just tell you that this team is STACKED. We’re not going to run through the whole roster (we’ve got time to fill between now and when the tournament starts, y’know), so let’s hit the highlights.
First up, Marquette legend Travis Diener. The last notable memory I have of Diener is him hitting the game winning shot in the semifinals last year against Team Hines to advance to the finals. Here’s that shot for your viewing pleasure. He spent four years at Marquette from 2001-2005 and was a career 14.1/3.1/5.1 guy while shooting 41% from three. Diener helped lead Marquette to the Final Four in 2003 and finished his career 6th all-time on the Marquette’s career scoring leaderboard. He then went on to play for three NBA teams between 2005-2010 with his longest stint at the Indiana Pacers where he averaged 6.9 points and 3.8 assists in 66 games. He went overseas in 2011 and played for Dinamo Sassari and Vanola Cremola in Italy until 2019. He enjoyed more success in Italy averaging 11.1 points and 5 assists in eight seasons while winning the Italian Cup in 2014 and 2019 and being named the Italian Cup MVP in 2014. It’s crazy how Diener is still balling at a very high level considering he’s 38 years old. We’ll see what kind of magic he can pull this year.
Next, one of my personal favorites: Andrew Rowsey. In terms of what he did on the court, he was one of the most exciting MU players to watch in recent years. He’s known for being the creator of #TheThing which got national attention and being the pesky sidekick to Markus Howard. He averaged 16.2 points and 3.6 assists in his two seasons and finished with 1,087 points for Marquette. He broke Steve Novak’s record for threes in a senior season with 125 and shot 42% for his career. As for his professional career, Rowsey played for Szolnoki Olnaj in Hungary and averaged 11.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists playing 22 minutes per game during the 2018-19 season. In December of last year, Rowsey was picked up by Lakeland Magic of the NBA G League and had a few solid games before the season was suspended due to COVID-19. He’s a walking scoring explosion waiting to happen, which is always a good thing to have in a win-or-go-home event.
Jamil Wilson has been the Golden Eagles’ go-to guy in recent years. He’s come in clutch and has 4 Elam Ending buckets in his career at TBT which ranks top 5 all time. Last year he averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game leading the Golden Eagles to the finals. He played for Marquette from 2011-2014 and averaged 9.4 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in his 3 years at Marquette. He played in the NBA for a bit most recently lacing up for the LA Clippers in the 2017-2018 season and averaged 7 points and 2 rebounds in 15 games.
The Golden Eagles also talked Darius-Johnson Odom into coming on after playing for Loyalty is Love last year. So that’s a huge steal (though they really stole him from us since he’s an MU alum). And of course, we can’t forget about the addition of big man Luke Fischer who was a crowd favorite because he proposed to his wife on Senior Night in front of a racous crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Fischer is a traditional big man, something that MU’s TBT team has lacked in the past. We’ll see how Coach Chapman makes use of this new element in the mix.
We’ll get into a more in-depth roster breakdown later as the roster has yet to be finalized [coughpleaseplaydwyanecough]. Teams have until the start of the tournament to officially put players on the roster. We don’t officially have television broadcast information on these games yet, but TBT recently re-upped with ESPN, so it’s just a matter of officially making the announcement on what goes where and when.