THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT 2021
Illinois Regional First Round
#1 Golden Eagles vs #16 B1 Ballers
FINALLY, TBT action that we actually care about.
I kid, I kid, I love TBT. But, today is the first day with a game for the Marquette alumni team, and so I (and all of you out there in Internet-Land) care a little bit more about what’s happening today.
Last year, Golden Eagles went to the bubble in Columbus, Ohio, for TBT and came away as the champions in the 24 team tournament. Travis Diener hit a corner three for the Elam Ender to give the MU alums (and friends) the $1 million winner-take-all prize. That made them the fourth outfit to win a TBT title, following in the footsteps of Notre Dame Fighting Alumni, four-time champs Overseas Elite, and Carmen’s Crew, the Ohio State alumni squad.
Only Overseas Elite has ever managed to win multiple TBT titles, and they’re the only team to win back-to-back titles after capturing each of them between 2015 and 2018. Can the Marquette guys become the second team to repeat and the second team to win a second time at all? The odds are probably against them, but that’s why it’s fun, right?
Let’s get into the Marquette roster, shall we? Going in alphabetical order....
We do have one change to the roster as it was previously announced and then updated with the addition of MU legend Travis Diener. David Moss was originally set to join the Golden Eagles’ roster as a hired gun from outside the family, but he’s not on the roster any more. Instead, Sacar Anim has signed up to play for the Marquette alumni team, and that’s a pretty solid addition to this squad.
With the presence of Jamil Wilson and Dwight Buycks, Marquette doesn’t really need scorers on the floor, and the addition of Vander Blue to replace the injured Darius Johnson-Odom from last year’s roster benefits Marquette in the scoring department as well. Wilson and Luke Fischer can handle the inside work. What Marquette does seem to need on this roster is a Swiss Army Knife type player who can defend guards and wings and maybe take on a slightly undersized post if need be on a switch. Anim fits that bill, and he showed he can shoot it from outside well enough as well as get to the rim decently enough in his last few years at Marquette as well.
Let’s dive into what B1 Ballers brings to the table, other than their sponsorship from USA Natural Patches. This is their official TBT roster page bio:
The B1 Ballers are a team of assorted overseas professionals who secured their spot in the field of 64 via buy-in. Their roster includes former New Mexico standout Corey Manigault.
That’s, uh, not much. Then again, this is B1’s first appearance in TBT, so it’s hard to tell much of a story without a notable reason for the team to exist other than “we want to play in TBT.” Here’s the full roster, as assembled by General Manager and HEad Coach Jerry Castello:
It looks like B1 Ballers is going to have a youth advantage on the Marquette guys. They have seven guys who played notable minutes at the Division 1 level, and only of them — Omar Strong — played before 2016. As luck would have it, you could make an argument for Strong having the best collegiate career after averaging 15.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in two seasons at Texas Southern in 2012 and 2013. Four other guys, led by Quintin Dove at 16.6 per game, averaged at least 10 points per game in college.
Golden Eagles is the top seed in the Illinois Regional, so in theory, that means that TBT’s brain trust doesn’t expect them to be threatened all that much by B1 Ballers. However, this is TBT and we have seen weirder things than a 16 beating a 1. If B1 can make use of their younger legs to counter the fact that the MU guys are used to playing together for Joe Chapman in this event, we could be in for an interesting game.
Or maybe Clippers Jamil shows up and this one is over early?
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