The second half of the Columbus first round AND the start of the first round in Illinois!
Did you enjoy yesterday’s four games in The Basketball Tournament’s Columbus Regional? I hope you did, because you’ll never get the chance to watch those games ever again.
I mean, I guess if you have ESPN+ access, or even WatchESPN access, they’re all available for replay for the time being. So I guess you could watch them right now if you wanted to. BUT YOU MISSED THEM LIVE and that’s what’s important.
We have eight TBT games today. Four are in the Columbus Regional to wrap up the first round over there, while the other four are in the Illinois Regional as that gets started today. No, the Marquette team is still not playing today. That’s tomorrow. Patience, young padawan.
Here’s what’s on deck for today. All times Central, of course.
12pm: #7 Wolf Blood vs #10 Category 5, ESPN3
The NC State alumni squad makes their debut in TBT here. C.J. Williams turned a 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists career at NC State into 53 career games in the NBA, so that sounds an awful lot like a guy who’s not going to be afraid to bust his ass to get it done. Scott Wood shot over 41% from behind the arc for the Wolfpack from 2009-13, and Terry Henderson had a great senior year in 2017, averaging 14 points, three rebounds, and two assists per game.
Category 5 is the creatively named Miami alumni squad, and just like Wolf Blood, this is their first appearance as a program in TBT. Rion Brown and Malcolm Grant have played in TBT before, so they can send the message to everyone else about how teams that take this seriously have better luck. Davon Reed scored over 1,300 career points for the Canes and turned that into 31 games in the NBA between Phoenix and Indiana in 2018 and 2019.
2pm: #2 Red Scare vs #15 BC Vahakni City, ESPN3
A 4-2 all-time record in TBT was good enough to get the Dayton alumni team to the #2 seed in this region this year. Being from a relatively local school probably helped, too. Red Scare made it to the semifinals a year ago before being bounced by the Marquette alumni squad. Trey Landers and Devin Oliver were big contributors to that semifinals run a year ago, and both guys are back this year. Ryan Mikesell was a notable part of the 2020 Dayton team that had their potentially magical NCAA tournament run ripped away from them, and he’s on the roster here, too. FUN FACT: Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is a booster here because his nephew, Joey, is the GM and head coach.
Vahakni City is literally a team in Armenia’s Basketball League A, the best league in Armenia. They won a league title this past season, and Darious Clark has organized this squad after winning that title over in Europe. TBT’s website for the team says that they are “a buy-in team” for this year’s event, so I’m unclear if the Armenian club is the one doing the buying or what. Based on the general lack of Armenian names on the roster, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the entire Vahakni City roster. Also wild: The general manager of the team is listed as Christy Buss, the daughter-in-law of long-time Los Angeles Lakers owner, Jerry Buss. Is she going to be in attendance? Who can say?
5pm: #6 Blue Collar U vs #11 The Nerd Team, ESPN2
We have yet another debuting team here, as Blue Collar U is a Buffalo alumni team. In fact, this team is going to look very familiar to Marquette fans, as six of the guys on the roster were on the Bulls team that came into Fiserv Forum ranked #14 in the country only to have Markus Howard hang 45 points on them. That was a really good UB team that ended up as a #6 seed in the NCAA tournament, so if they come into this with that kind of energy….. well, they could make a run.
They’ll have another TBT rookie on the other side of the court from them in The Nerd Team. It appears that their focus is putting together a roster of guys from notably tough schools on the academic side. It holds up for a minute here, as you see Brown, Harvard, Penn, and even Penn State on the roster page. Then there’s Jelan Kendrick, who played at Indian Hills Community College, UNLV, and Ole Miss after being a top 10 prospect in the country. I’m not trying to judge here, but I am definitely asking what’s up with the high minded mission that went right out the door when someone decided that they really wanted a very good basketball player on the roster.
7pm: #3 Zip ‘Em Up vs #14 Ohio 1804, ESPN2
J.P. Macura, Semaj Christon, and Trevon Bluiett are playing for this Xavier alumni team. I feel like I don’t have to provide much more detail here other than pointing out that this is their first run in TBT as a unit.
YET ANOTHER TBT DEBUT and I am wondering who stacked the deck here and for whom. Ohio 1804 is a alumni squad representing Ohio University. They have three guys who were rotation players for the Bobcats when they went to the Sweet 16 in 2012, and their team bio page says they should have a fourth. Reggie Keely is not listed in the roster section, only in the “About” section. We’ll see if he’s actually available. It’s neat that they have guys from that team, but the three guys that are on the roster were just guys on that team, not leading scorers or rebounders.
11am: #3 Boeheim’s Army vs #14 Forces of Seoul, ESPN
The Syracuse alumni team has racked up a record of 15-6 in their previous runs in TBT. They’ve decided to start stepping outside the family here as they look to finally break through to the championship, as they have added Overseas Elite veterans D.J. Kennedy and DeAndre Kane to the roster alongside guys like C.J. Fair, Eric Devendorf, Malachi Richardson, and Tyler Lydon. Will it work?
Forces of Seoul is a group of guys with a history of playing in South Korea. Big Man Vernon Macklin played two years at Georgetown and two at Florida before catching on for 23 games with the Detroit Pistons in 2011-12. Kevin Galloway started his collegiate career at USC, bounced to JUCO for a year, ended up at Kentucky, transferred to Texas Southern, and then put up 11 points, seven rebounds, and six assists per game in his last season of college ball back in 2011.
1pm: #2 House of ‘Paign vs #15 Jackson UnderDawgs, ESPN
The co-hosts of this Regional, HoP made their TBT debut last season in the Columbus bubble. They started out as the #16 overall seed but advanced to the quarterfinals after knocking off defending champs Carmen’s Crew. Noted non-Illinois alumnus Mike Daum did a lot of heavy lifting for the squad last year, but they add Illini legend Brandon Paul to the roster this summer.
Jackson UnderDawgs returns to TBT after missing out in 2020. They’ve never been a big time seed in the event, but they have a record of 5-4. There’s no one on the roster that jumps off the page as a notable big time name star, but that’s never stopped the squad from grabbing wins in this event in the past.
4pm: #6 The Overlooked vs #11 Team Heartfire, ESPN3
Y’all want to watch some Murray State dudes play some basketball? Can I interest you in two-time OVC Player of the Year Isaiah Caanan? 2019 OVC Defensive Player of the Year Shaq Buchanan? How about 2009 OVC Freshman of the Year Ivan Aska? I count five guys on this roster from the 2012 MSU team that faced off against Marquette in the NCAA tournament.
Heartfire returns after debuting in the bubble last summer and bowing out in the first round to the Purdue alumni team. Former Valpo head coach Homer Drew is calling the shots as GM and Notre Dame alum LaPhonso Ellis is running the sidelines. Former Pittsburgh center Gary McGhee is probably the most well known player name on the roster for Marquette fans, although Branden Dawson had a nice career at Michigan State, and Tevin Mack just averaged 12 and 5 in 2019-20 at Clemson.
6pm: #7 Always A Brave vs #10 Hoopville Warriors, ESPN3
The Bradley alumni team is the other co-host for this regional with games being played in their hometown of Peoria, Illinois. This is their fourth go-round in TBT and they have gone 8-3 in their previous tries at the winner-take-all prize, including a run to the semifinals in 2016 where they beat the Marquette guys to get there. 7-footer Patrick O’Bryant is on the roster after being selected #9 overall in the 2006 NBA Draft and playing all over the world since then. He played with both Daniel Ruffin and Marcus Sommerville on the 2006 Bradley squad that made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, and both of those guys will be in uniform for AAB here.
This is the sixth appearance for Hoopville Warriors, a team that was in the very first iteration of TBT back in 2014. They have won five games along the way, so these guys know what’s what in this event. I don’t think they have anyone that you’d call a big name on the roster, but like I said: They know how this works, and they have won first round games in the past.