Did everyone enjoy the opening weekend of The Basketball Tournament?
We’re all the way through to the regional finals in both the Omaha and Rucker Park regions, and only one of those regions was seeded properly based on how the games played out. That’s the Omaha Regional, as #1 Gutter Cat Gang and #2 Team Arkansas both advanced to the title game by picking up wins over the #4 and #3 seeded teams respectively. Rucker Park went the other way with #4 seed HBCUnited, a squad of guys who went to HBCUs, toppled the top seeded YGC, 66-59, on Sunday. That win moved them along to the regional championship against #2 Americana For Autism, who snagged an 83-67 win over #6 seed Big Five.
But those games are not today! They will be played on Tuesday evening, and in the meantime, TBT is jumping off the Xavier and New Mexico Regionals. The fun part here? Thanks to the time zone differences, we’re getting some staggered starts. Xavier will start off first, both teams will have a game in the 2pm Central window, and then New Mexico will have a 4pm game to carry you through to the start of Xavier’s 5pm game. Both match up again with a 7pm, and then New Mexico goes it alone with the final game of the day.
Florida TNT is the team to beat at Cintas, coming in with a 5-2 all time record in TBT. Kenny Boynton and Rob Gray are probably the names that you most remember, but Big East fans from back in the day will remember USF’s Dominique Jones with varying levels of fondness. They get AboutBillions in the opening round, which could be interesting as that outfit is sponsored by boxer Adrien Broner who hails from Cincinnati. If his guys can hang with TNT, I think it’s safe to say that the crowd will get behind the local-related crew.
In fact, the only game in this region’s first round that does not have a home crowd advantage to it one way or another is #2 seed Sideline Cancer vs #7 Defeat Diabetes. SC is a long time TBT competitor, all the way back to the first TBT, racking up a record of 13-8 in their previous incarnations, and they must be taken seriously as a challenger to the crown here. The #3 seed is Zip ‘Em Up, the only possible name for the Xavier alumni squad, and they are stocked with guys you know: Dee Davis, JP Macura, Kaiser Gates, Matt Stainbrook, Semaj Christon, and Trevon Bluiett.... and that’s not the whole roster. Finally, there’s Nasty Nati as the #4 seed, a team of Cincinnati alumni that’s making their TBT debut here. Jarron Cumberland is the biggest name I recognize, but that’s apparently because I completely missed the existence of Jacob Evans, who has 59 NBA games across two seasons under his belt after being a first round pick in 2018. Man, a lot happened in the AAC that I just completely did not pay attention to, huh?
Over in New Mexico, the games will be played on the University of New Mexico campus at The Pit, which is neat. Top seeded Heartfire is 1-2 all time in TBT after picking up their first ever win last year. LaPhonso Ellis is on the sidelines as coach, and the squad features names like Daniel Ochefu, Gary McGhee, and Ryan Boatright. Don’t discount what #2 seed Team Challenge ALS can do, as they are 11-5 all time in TBT. I want to throw a content warning here because if you’re going to watch Challenge’s game, you’re probably going to get bombarded with “viral sensation Julian Newman” content. I fell down a rabbit hole after seeing that phrase on their official TBT team page, and now I’ve put it in your head.
The New Mexico Regional could be a fascinating one to watch, as all four of the lower seeded teams are making their TBT debuts. As such, we don’t really know what to expect from them. I will note that Ram Up’s roster features former Marquette guard John Dawson, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
Also: The final game of the day pits a New Mexico alumni team against a New Mexico State alumni team. If nothing else, the crowd reaction in Albuquerque should be fascinating.
12pm: #1 Florida TNT vs #8 Team AboutBillions, ESPN3
2pm: #2 Sideline Cancer vs #7 Defeat Diabetes, ESPN3
5pm: #4 Nasty Nati vs #5 Fort Wayne Champs, ESPN3
7pm: #3 Zip ‘Em Up vs #6 Sweet Home Alabama, ESPNU
New Mexico Regional
2pm: #3 LA Cheaters vs #6 Ram Up, ESPN3
4pm: #2 Team Challenge ALS vs #7 Once A Bronco, ESPN3
7pm: #1 Heartfire vs #8 Competitive Choice, ESPN3
9pm: #4 Land Of Enchantment vs #5 Panamaniacs, ESPNU