HELLO AND WELCOME TO DAY 2 OF THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT!
Did everyone enjoy Day 1? I hope you did. I’m actually writing this on Thursday juuuuust in case Friday gets a little too something-or-other and I don’t get time to write it up. We’ll all presume that all four games were very fun and exciting and all four Elam Endings were great. It’s probably what happened.
Today we get the other end of the first round in the Wichita Regional and the first four games of the West Virginia Regional. As an added bonus, two of the WV games will be on ESPN and a third will be on ESPN2! That’s fun. It leads to a little bit of goofiness when it comes to scheduling because TBT went with what ESPN wants on TV as opposed to what makes sense for good ticket sales and good crowds, but it is what is when you have a TV contract, I suppose.
We’ve got eight games to get into, so let’s get into it!
All times Central, of course.
12pm: #5 Florida TNT vs #12 Kimchi Express, ESPN3
Florida TNT reached the second round in their lone TBT appearance back in 2019. Antonio Blakeney and his 76 career games in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls lead the way for the #5 seed here, although Chris Warren had a great career at Ole Miss and has averaged 15.9 points per game in four TBT runs with four different outfits and Kenny Boynton was A Dude for Florida back in the day. Marquette fans might best know Dominique Jones from his days at South Florida, though. Kimchi Express is back in TBT after missing the last two outings. They are 1-3 in three previous tournaments. Will Davis has been playing pro hoops all over the world since tallying 13/7/1 to earn Big West First Team honors in his senior year at UC Irvine in 2015. Marcus Graves was All-Big Sky Second Team in 2019 and has been kicking around the G League since, while Nijal Pearson scored over 2,100 career points for Texas State when he wrapped up his college run in 2020.
2pm: #4 LA Cheaters vs #13 Mental Toughness, ESPN3
I personally love the idea of LA Cheaters in TBT, as they’re a group of guys who all play in the Drew League in Los Angeles. They went 1-1 in 2019, and there are some Dudes on this team. Derrick Williams was the #2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and played over 400 career games in the league, Mychal Thompson averaged 11/4/1 and a steal in 128 career games at Pepperdine, Quincy Miller was Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2012 and has had an extensive pro career since, and Terrence Jones was the #18 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. On the other side of the court, Mental Toughness is gonna need their namesake to pull off a win. This is their first year in TBT, and they’re playing to raise awareness for the JCK Foundation, which is pretty neat. They do have Brandon Randolph, who was a top 50 high school prospect and averaged 12/3/1 at Arizona in 2018-19 and noted Seton Hall product Quincy McKnight, whom Marquette fans know as the better Pirates guard in 2019-20.
5pm: #1 Eberlein Drive vs #16 NG Saints, ESPN3
Top seeded Eberlein Drive is 8-5 in previous runs at the TBT title, including taking a crack at the first ever tournament back in 2014. They don’t have a lot of names that jump off the page at you — Archie Goodwin? Marquis Teague? — but they might have the most experienced coach in the tournament with current Memphis assistant Cody Topper running the show. They’re facing NG Saints, and that itself is a fantastic story. The Saints are the only high school alumni team in TBT. Former Syracuse players Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson have defected from Boeheim’s Army to rep for their old stomping grounds, but for the purposes of Philadelphia area prep hoops, Ja’Quan Newton might be the biggest name. The former Miami guard broke the Philly Catholic League scoring record and on top of that, was named the Southeast Pennsylvania Player of the Decade in 2019.
7pm: #8 The Enchantment vs #9 Stillwater Stars, ESPN3
Look, I get that the New Mexico alumni team wanted to make a reference to their school’s home state with their name. It’s fine. I would have gone with Truth Or Consequences personally because that seems like a cooler team name, but I’m also a big fan of Cactus Jack. J.R. Giddens (#30 pick in the NBA Draft in 2008) and Drew Gordon (13/11/1/1 in two years at UNM) make up the core of the team, although don’t overlook Darington Hobson, who was Mountain West Player of the Year in 2010. Stillwater Stars is an Oklahoma State alumni squad making their second straight TBT appearance. They lost in the first round a year ago, so the former Cowboys will be looking to make a dent in the win column here. This one has a Marquette flavor to it, as former MU big man Jayce Johnson is signed up to play for the Stars.
West Virginia Regional
11am: #3 Herd That vs #13 Team DRC, ESPN
How far they have come. Herd That, the Marshall alumni squad, was the overall #23 seed in last year’s TBT. They managed to advance to the quarterfinals, knocking off two top 10 teams before falling to Overseas Elite. Now they’re a top 15 seed in this year’s event and the #3 in West Virginia. That’s neat. They are led by the Elmore brothers, Jon and OT, although Jon is the one who starred in college and OT is merely the 2020 TBT media darling. Team DRC gave Overseas Elite fits in 2019, falling by eight to the three-time champs in the Richmond Regional championship game. This is their third run in TBT, but this one is more interesting than their previous tries. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is the Booster and namesake for the team..... and the two-time NFL Pro Bowl caliber corner back is going to play for his team this year.
1pm: #2 Best Virginia vs #15 WoCo Showtime, ESPN
Best Virginia is the West Virginia alumni squad, back in the tournament after making their debut in 2019. There are familiar names across the roster: Juwan Staten, Sagaba Konate, and even assistant coach Da’Sean Butler. Marquette fans are probably most familiar with Kevin Jones, though. That would be the guy who led the Big East in scoring and rebounding but still lost Player of the Year to Jae Crowder. WoCo Showtime is a Wofford alumni team, although they have appeared under the Showtime moniker in six previous iterations of TBT. The only thing you need to know about them is that they have Fletcher Magee, and if he has it going from long range, the former ‘Eers might be in trouble.
4pm: #6 Team 23 vs #11 Georgia Kings, ESPN2
Team 23 has experience in TBT with five previous appearances, and they have had success in the past as well with nine total wins. Many of those came in 2015 when they made a run to the title game before falling to Overseas Elite in the three-time champs’ first title win. This time around, Team 23 has two former OE guys in Raphiel Putney and Dakarai Tucker who played with that squad in the bubble last year. They also have former Villanova center Daniel Ochefu, which could be a big deal for them. Georgia Kingz is exactly what it sounds like: A team of guys from Georgia. This is their first TBT appearance, but they have Jordan McRae, who played in 123 NBA games between 2015 and 2020.
6pm: #7 D2 vs #10 Bleed Virginia, ESPN3
Much like We Are D3 is former Division 3 players, D2 is made up of guys who played at the Division 2 level in college. This is their third go-round in TBT, and they picked up a win in 2019. Bleed Virginia isn’t a whacky counter organization to Best Virginia, it’s just a squad of guys from the Commonwealth. It’s the first time that this organization has appeared in TBT, and they don’t have any immediately obvious big name players on board. Je’Quan Lewis did score over 1,400 career points for VCU, though.