The Basketball Tournament: Handicapping the Field
Last month, we told you about The Basketball Tournament. 32 teams, single elimination, winner take-all, $500,000 on the line. It goes down June 6-8 in Philadelphia, with a championship game later in the month.
TBT announced its field on Thursday, and needless to say, we're intrigued. With a mix of former NBA players, D-Leaguers, Euroleaguers, college standouts and average joes, this is what Pro-Am competition is all about. Final Four teams are reuniting. Washed-up stars are re-entering the public eye. Where else can you potentially see a team of Princeton grads take on a legendary streetball squad?
The bracket and seedings will be released May 22 but to find out what teams to watch, which players are making dramatic returns, and who we like to go deep into the tournament, read on.
Notable Players: Dahntay Jones, Quincy Douby, Shavlik Randolph, Andre Barrett, Josh Boone
Why they'll win: They can field a starting five entirely made up of NBA talent. They also have Matt Walsh, former Florida Gator and the self-dubbed "Best White Boy From Philly Ever."
Did you know: Shavlik Randolph's first name is actually Ronald.
Sponsored by Barstool Sports Boston, Team Barstool might be the most stacked up and down the roster. They have two former Duke players and five ex-NBA guys... although none of them were exactly stars. Still, they're probably the most talented bunch. Expect a deep run.
Team ROBY (Villanova Final Four team)
Notable players: Dante Cunningham, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher
Did you know: Mike Nardi played from 2003-2007 and thus wasn't actually on the 08-09 team, but is on the roster and balling for $0 in winnings.
The 2008-2009 Villanova Final Four team has regrouped, with only Corey Stokes notably missing. They're the most stacked of all the reuniting teams in the field, with size, athleticism and a winning history—plus a distinct advantage playing in Philly. This might be the team to beat.
TYGTAL (Take Your Game to Another Level)
Notable players: Marshall Henderson, Hakim Warrick, Reggie Williams, Lenzelle Smith
Why they'll win: As far as bands of ragtag mercenaries go, they're pretty talented.
Did you know: Point guard Kevin Foster is Santa Clara's all-time leading scorer (2,423 points from 2008-2013).
They have an edgy, erratic leader in Marshall Henderson. Hakim Warrick and Reggie Williams bring NBA experience. They have an All-Name team nominee in 6-11 center Callistus Eziukwu. If you had to pick a team to get hot, go on a ridiculous run and blaze through the tournament, it might be these guys.
Big Apple Basketball
Notable Players: Smush Parker, Rashad McCants, Darius Washington, Russell Robinson, Ater Majok
Did you know: Rashad McCants used to date Khloe Kardashian?
With several guys searching for redemption and two 7-footers in Majok, the Lakers' second-round pick in 2011 and former UMass center Luke Bonner, who's just trying to get in shape, Big Apple Basketball makes for an edgy pick. If you like picking favorites, that is. And remember not to make Smush Parker angry.
THE EMOTIONAL UNDERDOG FAVORITE
Pup N' Suds
Notable players: Jack Roberts, a 6-foot-8 center and four-year letterman at Middlebury College.
Why they'll win: We want them to?
Did you know: The name "Pup N' Suds" derives from the Disney Channel Original Movie Brink.
Assembled by Pat Fisher, a former walk-on football player at Pitt, Team Pup N' Suds preemptively takes home the "We Ain't Even Supposed to Be Here" award. They campaigned relentlessly on social media to get into this tournament. They embody the spirit of the competition. They probably won't win, but we hope they do.
Read on for the rest of the field...
Notable Players: Josh Selby, Maalik Wayns, Mario Little
Why they'll win: There's always a possibility the magical Josh Selby redeption tour begins here.
Did you know: Josh Selby once scored 48 points against Brandon Jennings in a summer game.
With former McDonalds All-Americans Wayns and Selby in the backcourt and a handful of other D-League guys, Team FOE has a talented group with height and professional experience. They're not a sexy team and don't have much depth, but could certainly advance to later rounds and make things interesting.
Peace Players International
Notable players: Michael "Juice" Thompson
Why they'll win: Remember when Drew Nicholas made this shot?
Did you know: Terrence Morris was once considered a potential Top-5 pick in the NBA draft?
An experienced group of guys who played professionally overseas gives Peace Players International a chance to make some noise. They've got shooters and a savvy, unselfish team with guys who played at smart schools like Northwestern and Yale. They're representing an organization that teaches values and leadership skills to kids around the world. The thinking man's pick.
Notable players: Sean Singletary
Why they'll win: Three-point snipers and a point guard that can get it to them.
Did you know: Sammy Zeglinski and his older brother Joe combined to make 593 three-pointers at Virginia and Hartford, respectively.
A bunch of ex-college guys from the Philadelphia area including four Virginia grads make up the core of the Philly Patriots, who should garner some hometown fan support. Sean Singletary, the first player in ACC history with 2000 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals in his career will have to shoulder a scoring load and find time to distribute. Here's a team with an outside chance.
Rep Your City
Notable players: Aquille Carr, Kenny Kadji, Jordan Henriquez
Did you know: Carr earned the nickname "Crimestopper" because the crime rate in his native Baltimore allegedly dropped whenever he would play in a high school game.
As you might have figured out by now, Aquille Carr has resurfaced. The 20-year-old former Seton Hall commit who's since played in China and the D-League, as well as declaring himself eligible for the draft, will lead a team that also includes former Miami stars Kadji, Henriquez and Garrrius Adams. They also have Marcus Lewis, who recently won the college dunk contest. This is one of the most athletic, potentially fun-to-watch teams in the field.
Notable players: Halil Kanacevic, Langston Galloway
Why they'll win: An intriguing mix of recent college players. Kanacevic could dominate.
Did you know: Kanacevic once flipped off Villanova fans!
Barstool Philly, backed by...Barstool Sports Philly, presents a natural foil to the Barstool Boston squad, as well as the older, more experienced Philadelphia teams. Kanacevic is one of the better big men in the tournament, and he's joined by fellow St. Joe's grads Galloway and C.J. Aiken. This team might not win it all, but could certainly spice things up.
Notable players: Chris Wright, Austin Freeman
Why they'll win: The backcourt could rekindle some Georgetown magic.
This group from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area is playing for the Zaching Against Cancer Foundation in honor of former Maryland basketball student manager Zach Lederer, where a portion of the proceeds would go if they win. Wright and Freeman were McDonald's All-Americans and played at Georgetown. A handful of young pro guys and an All-Name Team nominee could make it interesting.
Notable Players: Dominic Cheek, Ahmad Nivins
Why they'll win: Motivation and winning tradition.
Did you know: Madut Bol is the son of...you guessed it...the late, great Manute Bol.He has a 6-foot-5 middle school brother named Bol Bol.
GM Terry Dehere, a former Seton Hall star and NBA player has assembled a group of grads from the legendary St. Anthony high school program to raise money for the struggling school and support Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley. In one of the best stories of the tournament, they're playing to help keep their school open.
Notable players: Nurideen Lindsey
Why they'll win: Nurideen Lindsey once made this shot?
Did you know: GM Billy Clapper is the head coach at DIII Penn State-Altoona.
Billy Clapper hung out in the school's cafeteria with laptops and iPhones to recruit enough fans to squeeze his team in. He used social media to recruit a players. He embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of this tournament. All the proceeds from a win go to the Griffith Family Foundation.
Next page: College teams reunite
Notre Dame Fighting Alumni
Notable players: Chris Thomas, Colin Falls, Rob Kurz
Why they'll win: These guys can play together. And shoot, really really well.
Almost everyone who was relevant for Notre Dame in the 2000s is on this team. They've got some versatility and a lot of shooting. Don't count these guys out. We just miss Luke Harangody.
Cornell Sweet Sixteen
Notable players: Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote
Why they'll win: Disney made this movie.
Did you know: After this, it's nothing but babies and memories.
One of the first teams to reunite for TBT, you probably remember these guys from their 2010 Sweet 16 run and three straight Ivy League championships. They're all back together and hoping to reclaim some of that glory. Hey, you never know.
PUBB Champions Tour
Notable players: Douglas Davis!
Why they'll win: They're probably going to play really, really slow. It might work.
Did you know: This tournament has a 45-second shot clock? Advantage: Princeton.
Legendary coach Pete Carrill is on board and supporting this team of former Princeton Tigers. Presumably, they'll do a lot of backdoor cuts and shoot lots of threes. We really just want to see how long they can hold the ball for.
Air Force Bomb Squad
Notable players: Nick Welch, Taylor Broekhuis
Why they'll win: Chemistry, lots of shooters and an efficient system of play. At least, they used to play that way.
Did you know: Many of these guys are still active duty Air Force officers.
Several members of the talented, precise mid-2ooos Air Force teams have reunited, to catch up with one another and maybe win some basketball games. They've got a shot at a deep run if their group of shooters can get hot and stay hot. The team-first mentality could be a difference-maker.
Notable players: Dwayne Jones, Pat Carroll
Why they'll win: It gets better with age?
Did you know: The majority of this team won 27 straight games (but with Jameer Nelson and Delonte West).
Jameer and Delonte are nowhere to be found, but these guys had success at St. Joseph's in the early 2000s and will look to rediscover the magic. Chet Stachitas is making a case for the All-Name squad.
Notable players: Paul Grant, Jeff Nordgaard
Why they'll win: They have superior dairy products.
Did you know: Kon Kneuppel (All-Name alert) is the all-time leading scorer at DIII Wisconsin Lutheran
Bucks, Badgers, et cetera. This is a group of guys with ties to America's dairyland who have the entire state behind them. They're also one of the tournament's older groups, with former NBA players Grant and Nordgaard both over the age of 40.
North Broad Street Bullies
Notable players: Aaric Murray
Why they'll win: 6-foot-10 center Murray, who just dropped 38 for Texas Southern in the NCAA tournament. He alone might be able to win them a game or two.
Did you know: This team features Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's brother Rahlir.
A group of former Temple Owls have united to form yet another Philly-based team. With six members of the teams that went to the NCAA tournament for six straight seasons (2008-2013), there's familiarity here to go with homecourt advantage.
Notable players: Ryan Paxson, son of former NBA player John Paxson.
Why they'll win: They won't.
Did you know: Tampa Bay Rays infielder Ben Zobrist went to Olivet Nazarene, apparently.
A bunch of former players from NAIA school Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais, Illinois are playing together in this tournament. One of their wives leads all of TBT in aggregated "Fan Points."
Next page: Ever wonder what happened to Louisville's Edgar Sosa?
BEST OF THE REST
Notable players: Edgar Sosa
Why they'll win: Edgar Sosa is still a threat to do this.
Did you know: Hofstra alum Darren Townes has been called "The Tim Duncan of the Korean Basketball League."
This team is only about half international, but they've got some talent. Sosa starred at Louisville and plays for the Dominican national team. Chukwudiebere Maduabum (say that ten times fast) was drafted by the Lakers in 2011. Who needs big names when you've got the Tim Duncan of the Korean League?
Sean Bell All-Stars
Notable players: Erving Walker
Why they'll win: They'd probably look cooler than everyone else doing it.
A mix of ex-D1 guys and streetball stars form the latest cast of one of New York's most storied blacktop hoops institutions. Representing New York City, they won't be a pushover.
Illinois Hoopville Warriors
Notable players: Osiris Eldridge
Why they'll win: Chicago grit.
Did you know: Malcolm Griffin once had interest from Kentucky, but stayed committed to Toledo.
One of two Chicago-based teams, the Illinois Hoopville warriors feature former Missouri Valley leading scorer Osiris Eldridge (Illinois State) and former Clippers draft pick Rico Hill.
Chicago Solid Gold
Notable players: Chris Singletary, Jamarcus Ellis
Why they'll win: Defense, toughness.
The second Chicago team, Solid Gold stars the core of a team that has represented Chicago around the country at elite pro-am levels. They defend and get in transition. They could easily catch a more touted team napping.
The Citi Team
Notable players: Antonio Anderson, Anthony Ireland
Why they'll win: The Anderson-Ireland backcourt can score as well as any in the tournament.
Did you know: Ireland scored 2,169 points at Loyola Marymount.
If this backcourt gets hot, this group could surprise. Antonio Anderson played alongside Derrick Rose at Memphis and made these big free throws once upon a time.
Notable players: Chase Simon
Why they'll win: They're scrappy?
Did you know: They almost recruited Corey Maggette!
These guys are from the Detroit suburbs and named the team after the cul-de-sac on their street. They brought in some talent in Simon, who helped take the University of Detroit-Mercy to the tourney in 2012 and Velton Jones, who scored 1,588 points at Robert Morris university.
NYC Superstars: Shooting guard John Holland scored 2,212 points at Boston University.
Team Bang: A team of streetball stars led by Greg "The Purest" Plummer, a former D-Leaguer who's being touted as the best shooter in the entire tournament.
Teasley's All Stars: Former WNBA All-Star Nikki Teasley has assembled a team, hoping to use TBT as a springboard to return to the pros.
Horsemen: A mysterious team of players from Far Rockaway Park in Queens. Showtime: This team from Council, Virginia campaigned all over their town to make it into the tourney.