Getting a Taste of Basketball with TBT, Even Without Big Indiana Presence

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In Indiana, the body and mind just aren't built to go four months without basketball. So even though there's not an Indiana team in the leaner-and-lighter TBT Tournament this year, it's still well worth tuning in every day.

It's just good to see some familiar faces running around on the court again in this 24-team, million-dollar winner-take-all event. And, of course, there is that huge bonus, getting daily doses of Dan Dakich on the broadcasts. (Snickers and/or jeers optional, but I love it.)

There are some Indiana connections in the tournament. Former Hoosiers Remy Abell and Maurice Creek are playing for a team called Sideline Cancer, which was the No. 22 seed coming in but upset No. 11 seed Team Hines Sunday night 93-91. Abell had 17 points in the win, and Creek had 13.

They even got a shoutout from their former coach, Tom Crean. 

Former Hoosier Luke Fischer is playing on the Golden Eagles, a team of mostly former Marquette players. He had four points Monday night in  their 76-67 victory over Team CP3.

There is plenty of Big Ten presence in the tournament. The defending champions are Carmen's Crew, a team full of standout former Ohio State players, including Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas, David Lighty and more.

A Purdue-centric team called "Men of Mackey'' won its first game in comeback fashion, but Indiana fans can snicker that they did it with guys carrying the team that DIDN'T play at Purdue. Justin Dentmon, a former University of Washington star who's been playing overseas for a decade, was the leading scorer with 33 points.

Dentmon is experienced in this tournament, and it was a big deal that Men of Mackey scooped him up. He scored 33 points — the highest output in the tournament so far — and helped them advance to Tuesday's second-round game with No. 3-seed Boeheim's Army, a collection mostly of former Syracuse players.

Illinois has a team in the TBT field for the first time, put together by former Illini Mike LaTulip, who did a lot with his players by Zoom conference calls for months before they even got to Columbus.

“He has done a great job working with that House Of Paign team far, far, far before this team ever got here for this tournament,” Dakich said on Twitter Sunday afternoon. “In fact, I’d argue that Mike LaTulip’s team runs more offense than 90 percent of the millionaires you see coaching in college basketball,”

House Of Paign is back in action on Wednesday when they attempt to topple the tournament’s defending champion Carmen’s Crew. Jared Sullinger brings back an impressive Ohio State alumni team that also includes former Illinois star guard Demetri McCamey.

Wisconsin had four players in the field, but Ethan Happ, who was playing with .... is already out. Three other Badgers — Vitto Brown, Trevon Hughes and Khalil Iverson —won their game. On Saturday, Brown, Iverson and Hughes helped Big X advance to the next round in a 79-74 win over D2.

Because TBT is the first basketball played since the pandemic erupted it March, it's something of a petri dish. The tournament is being played in a bubble in Columbus, There was strict testing beforehand, with more than 1,400 people going through the protocol, a 31 testing positive. Purdue's Johnny Hill failed his test and was removed from the Men of Mackey Roster.

One entire team — No, 5 seed Eberlein Drive — had to be removed from the field because of several positive COVID tests. And because this is a single-elimination  tournament, each team brings their bags to the arena, and if they lose, they leave immediately. 

Safety first, win, lose or draw.

Tuesday's Games

  • No. 6 Challenge ALS vs. No. 22 Sideline Cancer, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
  • No. 3 Boeheim's Army vs. No. 19 Men of Mackey, 4 p.m. (ESPN)

Wednesday's Games

  • No. 8 Red Scare vs. No. 9 Big X, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
  • No. 1 Carmen's Crew vs. No. 16 House of Paign, 4 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday's Games

  • No. 7 The Money Team vs. No. 23 Herd That, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
  • No. 2 Overseas Elite vs. No. 15 Armored Athlete, 4 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday's Results

  • No. 4 Golden Eagles 76, No. 13 Team CP3 67
  • No. 12 seed advanced by forfeit because No. 5 Eberlein Drive was disqualified due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Sunday's Results

  • No. 23 Herd That 80, No. 10 Peoria All-Stars 65
  • No. 22 Sideline Cancer 93, No. 11 Team Hines 91
  • No. 19 Men of Mackey 83, No. 14 Heartfire 79
  • No. 15 Armored Athlete 98, No. 18 Power of the Paw 91

Saturday's Results

  • No. 9 Big X 79, No. 24 D2 74
  • No. 12 Brotherly Love 87, No. 21 Stillwater Stars 71
  • No. 16 House of 'Paign 76, No. 17 War Tampa 53
  • No. 13 Team CP3 76, No. 20 PrimeTime Players 74