The Basketball Tournament is a bunch of fun, isn’t it? Yesterday the 16th-seeded House of ‘Paign upset #1 seed and defending champions Carmen’s Crew and boy I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t mention that I kind of called it in my Monday preview of the Golden Eagles matchup against Team CP3. The defending champions are (were?) the Ohio State alumni team and had what passes for home court advantage since this entire tournament is being played in Columbus. Still couldn’t stop Mike Daum from Dauminating with 23 points and eight rebounds. In other notable action since the Marquette alumni played, #15 Armored Athlete gave #2 Overseas Elite all they could handle before self-destructing in the Elam Ending and losing 76-70. OE was led by a certain Pooh Jeter with 22 points and 5-for-8 from three.
We’ve already had six upsets in this tournament strictly based on seeding. In the first game of the afternoon yesterday, #23 Herd That came back from nine down in the Elam Ending (!) to eliminate #7 The Money Team. You read that right, they were down nine points when the Elam Ending started which means they needed to score 17 points before TMT scored 8 to win. They did just that in a wildly entertaining game with little defense and a collapse of epic proportions by TMT. The final score in this one was 102-99— the highest scoring game of the tournament thus far.
We have reached the quarterfinals of TBT and we still have two teams that were seeded in the 20s out of the 24 team field still in the tournament. The aforementioned #23 Herd That is one and the other is TBT veteran program #22 Sideline Cancer who defeated #6 Challenge ALS in the Super 16 matchup. You could blame the guy in charge of seeding the tournament field or you could just chalk it up to the madness that ensues when no one has played competitive basketball for over three months, or just to the fact that sometimes teams take TBT way more seriously than other teams. In any case, it’s only going to get more wild from here on out as teams that survive get closer and closer to the $1 million prize.
Alright, enough chit chat, let’s take a look today’s opponent for the MU alumni squad: Team Brotherly Love. As you may have guessed most of their players are from the Philly area. Aside from having a top-5 TBT nickname (side note: House of ‘Paign is the clear winner), they should pose a tougher challenge than the Golden Eagles Super 16 contest against Team CP3. Brotherly Love blew out #21 Stillwater Stars, 87-71, in the first round. The tandem guards of Khalif Wyatt and Ramone Moore made the Stars’ defenders look silly with 27 and 24 points each. Wyatt shot a ridiculous 70% from the field knocking down four of his seven long-range shots and grabbing six rebounds. The Stars couldn’t figure out how to stop him so they tried fouling him and that didn’t work either—Wyatt converted 9 of his 10 free throws. Moore wasn’t as efficient going 9-for-18 from the field, but still, 24 points is no small feat.
Both Wyatt and Moore were teammates at Temple for three seasons from 2009-2012. Wyatt was the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year in his senior season while leading the Owls to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Moore led the Owls to a 7th seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2011 where they fell in the second round to San Diego State. He was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team his senior season. Both averaged 45% shooting for their collegiate careers and have professional basketball experience in the United States and overseas. Put Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom on these two and see what happens. Stopping these two means Brotherly Love will have to scramble to find other scoring options. If they can’t contain the Temple tandem, the Golden Eagles may find themselves in a shootout.
If Brotherly Love stay true to form, they will jack up a lot of threes. They connected on 9 of their 24 attempts in their first game. That’s a totally fine 38% success rate, and it accounts for 42% of their shots in the game. To paint the picture: 6’10” center Marlon Johnson, who had nine points and five rebounds against the Stillwater Stars, had four three-point attempts making one of them. Guarding the perimeter will be an emphasis for the Golden Eagles. Something that stood out to me about Brotherly Love’s first game is that they had 40 bench points, although that is largely skewed by Moore’s 24 points coming off the bench. We’ll see if head coach Kyle Sample makes any changes to the starting lineup after Moore’s scoring outburst.
You’ll notice that I only talked about Brotherly Love’s first round game against Stillwater Stars. Well, they have not played since that Saturday evening victory. They were slated to play #5 Eberlein Drive on Monday night but the game was canceled after ED was removed from the tournament after a player tested positive for coronavirus. Thus, Brotherly Love advanced straight through to the quarterfinals. Will they be rusty after having nearly a week off? What have they been doing with all this free time in a quarantine bubble? There’s only so much one can do. My understanding (which is largely filtered thru Travis Diener) is that the only thing to do in the bubble is play video games, play cards, and drink beer. Who’s to say Team Brotherly Love will show up with their “A” game on Friday afternoon?
We would be neglectful in our duties as preview writers if we did not mention the presence of D.J. Newbill on the Team Brotherly Love roster. You older Marquette fan types might remember that name. He signed a letter of intent to play for the Golden Eagles and head coach Buzz Williams back in April 2010, but by the time June rolled around, Newbill was out the door. Marquette needed the space on the roster for Jamil Wilson, and Newbill was the victim of circumstance. As a result of his release from his letter of intent less than two months later, Newbill was suddenly cast out in the cold and because he had signed a letter at a Big East institution, he was now no longer able to land at any other Big East school. Remember, this is back in the 16 team era. Newbill ended up at Southern Miss instead of Marquette that fall (thoughts at the time that he was not academically qualified based on things that Williams had said were completely wrong) and ended up transferring to Penn State, where he turned in a completely respectable high major caliber player. Let’s be perfectly honest about it: Buzz Williams did wrong by D.J. Newbill, and he did it in favor of Jamil Wilson. Both of those men will be on the court in this game, and that is more than worth noting.
The Golden Eagles are coming off of a strong showing with fan favorite Darius-Johnson Odom (not Darius Johnson-Odem, Mr. ESPN graphics manager), Jamil Wilson, and Dwight Buycks all showed that the 3-month layoff was no big deal for them and basically got anything they wanted offensively. Although not particularly needed, I’d love to see a Travis Diener and Andrew Rowsey backcourt at some point in this game. Wouldn’t it be fun to see threes being launched from the logo? And maybe, just maybe, the return of #TheThing? Fingers crossed that the Golden Eagles will be up by a comfortable enough margin where head coach Joe Chapman throws Diener and Rowsey in there for our viewing pleasure. Did you realize that they didn’t even play against CP3??
Make sure to tune in to ESPN as the #4 Golden Eagles will battle #12 Team Brotherly Love for a spot in the semifinals. Tipoff scheduled for 1pm Central with Bob Rathbun and Fran Fraschilla currently penciled in to call the game, although that’s clearly subject to change as ESPN pulled the Dan Dakich carpet out from under us on Monday. The winner of this game will face the winner of the much anticipated matchup between #16 House of ‘Paign and #8 Red Scare, which is the Dayton alumni team. That game will tip off at 3pm on ESPN today, so just keep your TV/streaming device going after the MU guys wrap up.