Despite an international pandemic doing its best to keep TBT 2020 sidelined, it is here. Nothing can stop the Elam Ending from proving its worth on national television, not even the plague.
TBT 2020, like previous iterations, boasts a number of names you’re familiar with if you’ve watched enough college basketball in the last 15 years. It also has a ton of guys you never heard of but were killing it at Southwestern A&M Poly Tech in 2008 and have built solid overseas careers for themselves since. The point is: the level of play is legit, and the $1 million winner-take-all prize means these games are serious.
Last night, Eberlein Drive was disqualified from TBT 2020 after one of its players tested positive for the coronavirus. That means Team Brotherly Love is on to the next round without having to play to get there, and that also means that us fans are without a game we were expecting when there were already so few for us to enjoy.
Savor every game we get out of TBT 2020. Who knows when we’ll have something like this again.
TBT 2020 Day 4 Matchups
All times Eastern.
6 Team Challenge ALS vs. 22 Sideline Cancer (2 p.m., ESPN)
Back when Rice was balling at Boston College, the Eagles were NCAA Tournament regulars and occasional top 25 material. But in the last decade, Chestnut Hill has been devoid of thrill. For BC fans looking to remember a time when their team won more than seven ACC games in a season, Team Challenge ALS and Tyrese Rice are for you.
Rice has had a fantastic overseas career since his Boston College days ended in 2009. In 2014, he was central to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s EuroLeague championship, upsetting Real Madrid in the final in overtime, 98-86, earning EuroLeague Final Four MVP honors. In the 2018-19 season for Brose Bamberg (Germany) and helped his club go far continentally again, leading Bamberg to the Final Four of the Champions League, personally winning MVP of the tournament for his contributions.
So yeah, good luck Sideline Cancer and anyone else who has to contain Rice. He’s pretty good.
Sideline Cancer narrowly survived Team Hines in its first game, 93-91, coming back from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter. Marcus Keene, who showed America that he is a bad, bad man, drilled a pull-up mid-range jumper over an outstretched Ethan Happ to give his team the Elam Ending victory.
And it’s not Keene’s first game winner.
The Central Michigan product helped get Sideline Cancer to the Sweet 16 of TBT 2019 and has done it again now in 2020, although it’s a bit different when the field starts at 24 instead of 64. Keene likely has higher hopes for his squad, though, like maybe $1 million as he dispatches of opponents in cold blood?
Can Keene repeat his 29-point performance? That will be a key to who wins this game. But more importantly, can he repeat this facial expression?
3 Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse alumni) vs. 19 Men of Mackey (Purdue alumni) (4 p.m., ESPN)
Boeheim’s Army is one of the longest-tenured teams in TBT, and last time around, the squad made it to the Elite Eight. The 2020 roster is almost entirely Syracuse alumni, with Will Rayman (Colgate), one of the best players in the Patriot League the last couple of years, the only non-Orange on the team.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys antics, I’m most excited for Eric Devendorf from this team. The tattooed trash talker was one of college basketball’s biggest villains when he was wearing orange in the late-2000s, and his game often backed up his mouth. Public perception of Devendorf has softened over the years as time between his Syracuse career and the present grows, and his work to keep basketball youth positive and practicing during the coronavirus pandemic is impossible to dislike.
We’ll be treated to seeing the 33-year-old take the court with many of his fellow Syracuse alumni, including Brandon Triche, one of the best points guard in the Big East during his time with the Orange in the early-2010s. He has experienced a length overseas career since leaving Syracuse in 2013, appearing in Italy, Israel, Greece and most recently Turkey. He brings TBT experience, too, having played for Boeheim’s Army in a handful of past iterations of the event.
The Syracuse alumni will play another alumni team for the right of a quarterfinals bid: Men of Mackey. The Purdue alumni team escaped HEARTFIRE, 83-79, in the first round, executing a comeback after trailing, 77-71, at the start of the Elam Ending. But the Boiler boys ended the game on a 14-2 run as Isaac Haas (Purdue) put back a missed Justin Dentmon (Washington) jumper for the game winner.
“Well, the message was, ‘We gotta go on a 14-7 run here,'” Haas said after the game next to a smiling Dentmon.
Dentmon was on another level, putting up 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and a 7-of-10 mark from the charity stripe. For long stretches of the game, he was the only member of the team getting anything positive going. That changes when Haas was switched to guard Isaiah Austin, though, completely flipping the script and giving Men of Mackey the spark it needed to recover. Stopping Dentmon and succeeding in the paint despite Haas will be the biggest challenges for Boeheim’s Army in this one, and how well it does in handling those two Men of Mackey weapons will go a long way in determining the winner.