The Basketball Tournament 2021
#1 Golden Eagles vs #3 Boeheim’s Army
You know what’s fun about The Basketball Tournament? Knowing that the extremely successful TBT outfit that you cheer for — Golden Eagles, the Marquette alumni team in this case — has played enough games in the past (22-4 coming into this year!) to have a head-to-head history against the team that they’re facing in the quarterfinals. It’s true! Golden Eagles has faced Boeheim’s Army, the Syracuse alumni team, before in TBT. That matchup came in the 2018 tournament, and Golden Eagles came away with the 90-86 victory over BA in the quarterfinals of that year’s event. POTENTIALLY NOT FUN FACT: The Marquette guys were the #3 seed in the region that year going up against the #1 seeded Boeheim’s Army team. The tables have turned on that one, so hopefully we don’t get that upset result this time.
This is Golden Eagles’ sixth straight trip to the quarterfinals of The Basketball Tournament, and they’ve never missed this round of the tourney, either. This time around, the Marquette alumni got to this point with an easy win over #16 seed B1 Ballers in the fist round before gutting out victories over #9 Playing for Jimmy V and #5 Autism Army in the next two rounds. Elgin Cook has been an absolute terror on the court, as he has missed just four shots in the first three games on his way to leading Golden Eagles in scoring at 16.7 points per game. Cook is also tied for the team lead in rebounds at 5.0 per game with Jamil Wilson, who is third on the squad in points. Dwight Buycks occupies the space between Cook and Wilson with 14.7 per game after having a big game against Autism Army on Wednesday, and Buycks is also leading the team with 4.7 assists per game.
Things have not come easy for Boeheim’s Army in this year’s tournament after compiling a record of 18-6 in their previous attempts to win this tournament. Even though the Syracuse alumni have always reached at least the round of 16 and have made at least the quarterfinals in four of their six TBT runs, that didn’t stop them from trailing by as many as nine in the first round against #14 Forces Of Seoul before winning by 12. The second round brought #11 Heartfire on the other side of the court, and they only won by six, 68-62, behind 17 points from former Green Bay star Keifer Sykes. The Syracuse guys had an easier go of things last time out, leading by 10 at the half before they beat #7 seed Always A Brave 69-54.
6’9” forward Chris McCullough is leading BA in scoring in the tournament, as he chips in 13.3 points per game. Tyrese Rice, a former Boston College guard himself, is the only other double digit scorer through three games, and he averages 11.3 points per game. I don’t have a big full stats package, but it certainly looks like Boeheim’s Army relies on sharing the ball exceptionally well this summer. Four guys are averaging at least two assists per game, including Rice and former TBT champion and BA hired gun DeAndre Kane at 2.7 per game. Kane isn’t the only former Overseas Elite member making a big impact on this Syracuse roster, as D.J. Kennedy is leading the team in rebounding at 8.0 per game.
With Overseas Elite not participating this year, Boeheim’s Army made the tactically smart move of bringing in some of their guys to try and win this thing. That’s the big question for this game: Are those moves enough, or will the defending TBT champs prove why they won the title last summer?
Elsewhere In The Basketball Tournament Quarterfinals
11am Central: #2 AfterShocks vs #5 Florida TNT, ESPN
6pm Central: #1 Sideline Cancer vs #6 Team 23, ESPN2
8pm Central: #5 The Money Team vs #6 Blue Collar U, ESPN2