Hello and welcome back to The Basketball Tournament!
Action in this summer’s Winner-Take-All 64 team single elimination event gets started on Saturday, bright and early, with eight games in two different regions. There will be four games coming at you from Omaha, Nebraska, as Creighton’s D.J. Sokol Arena plays host to that region, while the other four games will be played outdoors at New York City’s legendary Rucker Park.
The only down side to the schedule for today? Both regions have the exact same tipoff times. No staggered start times! I get that with three of the eight games going on ESPN2, TBT has to work with ESPN’s constraints, but it would have been fun to be able to click away from one game as it ended and go straight into the fourth quarter of another game.
There are four college alumni teams in the Omaha Regional, including the hosting Omaha Blue Crew squad. The Creighton crew is led by Justin Patton and Marcus Foster, and they have what might be the most attention worthy first round matchup. Team Overtime is put together by Overtime Elite effectively just to create a showcase for Amen and Ausar Thompson, a pair of twin brothers who are projected by ESPN to be lottery picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Overtime Elite is the outfit in Atlanta that’s offering contracts to high school age prospects to come in and focus on their training while getting paid. It’s quite a gamble for Overtime Elite and for the Thompson twins to participate in this event. We’ve seen time and time again in TBT: If you think you can win by just rolling the ball out with the guys you have on a roster, it’s not going to end well for you. I don’t think I have to stretch to think that maaaaaybe a bunch of guys with overseas pro experience aren’t looking forward to letting a couple of 18 year olds run wild on them with a million dollars on the line.
In any case, Omaha Blue Crew isn’t the top seed in the region. That honor goes to Gutter Cat Gang. This is just the old TBT Team Hines outfit, but now they have some NFT collective something or other sponsoring them. If you think I am putting effort into figuring that out, you are wrong. However, as Marquette fans, you might want to tune in, as they have both Sandy Cohen and Trent Lockett on their roster.
Up in NYC, the top spot belongs to YGC, a newcomer to TBT this summer. The Marcus Smart-backed squad has a bunch of guys with ties to the Northeast US, but I am fascinated by the idea of a team with no TBT history being the seeding favorite to win here. We see upsets all the time in TBT, and if YGC isn’t ready to go, I am sure that Chicago Hoopville Warriors will be happy to show them what’s what in their seventh entry in this event.
The most obvious entry to this region in Skip To My Lou. If you’re going to play at Rucker Park, then of course you want a team coached by NYC streetball legend Rafer Alston. If nothing else, it gives you an excuse to show Rafer Alson clips to fill the time coming in and out of commercials. I suspect that the team that will get the most attention for an upset pick in this region will be #7 seed Peacock Nation. I mean, come on, it’s a St. Peter’s alumni team, how do you not pick them to win a game in a one-and-done tournament right now?
Here’s the official schedule for the day. All times Central, of course.
11am: #1 Gutter Cat Gang vs #8 The Cru, ESPN3
1pm: #2 Team Arkansas vs #7 Da Guys STL, ESPN3
5pm: #4 Always Us vs #5 Jackson Underdawgs, ESPN3
7pm: #3 Omaha Blue Crew vs #6 Team Overtime, ESPN2
Rucker Park Regional
11am: #2 Americana For Autism vs #7 Peacock Nation, ESPN2
1pm: #3 Ex-Pats vs #6 Big 5, ESPN3
5pm: #1 YGC vs #8 Chicago Hoopville Warriors, ESPN2
7pm: #4 HBCUnited vs #5 Skip To My Lou, ESPN3