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.
Two of the most exciting teams from 2019 – Red Scare and Carmen’s Crew – will begin their TBT 2020 journeys Wednesday. With wins, they will meet each other in the quarterfinals, a rematch of the Columbus Regional Final from last year, plus a partial rematch of the 2014 NCAA Tournament First Round meeting between Dayton and Ohio State that the Flyers won. But Big X and House of ‘Paign don’t care about that, do they?
TBT 2020 Day 5 Matchups
All times Eastern.
8 Red Scare (Dayton alumni) vs. 9 Big X (2 p.m., ESPN)
Ohio battles Ohio in Ohio. What could be more Ohio?
Red Scare was incredibly close to knocking Carmen’s Crew, the eventually 2019 champions, out of TBT last year in the Columbus Regional. Now, the Dayton alumni team is back and perhaps even better with some major additions to the squad.
The 2019-20 Dayton Flyers were one of the best teams in the country and arguably the greatest Dayton team ever. Unfortunately, the pandemic kept them from competing in the NCAA Tournament, but a couple of their key pieces will be on the floor at Nationwide Arena for TBT 2020: Trey Landers (10.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game in 2019-20) and Ryan Mikesell (8.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists). They’re not the only talents brought into the fold; 7-footer Trevor Thompson (Ohio State) and sharpshooter Ryan McMahon (Louisville) are new to the roster, too.
Red Scare has some of its same staples back, like Devin Oliver and Kyle Davis, who were instrumental to the team’s success at TBT 2019 and in the NCAA Tournament in 2014 when Dayton went on a run to the Elite Eight, to round out one of the best rosters in TBT 2020. Of course, games aren’t won on paper, and Red Scare will get challenged. But this has to be one of the biggest contenders to take home $1 million next week.
Big X dispatched of D2 in the first round, 79-74, in a hard fought battle against the last-minute substitutes into TBT 2020. Nick Ward (Michigan State) led the way in that one, putting up 18 points and five rebounds in the contest. Ward is a major part of what Big X tries to do, and he is a load for anyone to handle. Jamel Morris (Fairmont State) had himself a quietly nice night against D2 as well, though, and what he can do on the perimeter while linking up with Trevon Hughes (Wisconsin) and C.J. Jackson (Ohio State) will be important for the team’s continued success.
This game will be a showcase of Ohio basketball. So many of the players on both sides either played college ball in the state, hail from Ohio or both. Lots of these players have long histories playing with and against one another, which normally equates to lots of fun for neutral viewers. This could be one of the best games of TBT 2020 because of the addition bragging rights and personal stakes involved.
1 Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State alumni) vs. 16 House of ‘Paign (Illinois alumni) (4 p.m., ESPN)
The Ohio State alumni versus the Illinois alumni. Think these teams might be familiar with one another?
Carmen’s Crew brings most of the same roster than won last year with it to TBT 2020. Jared Sullinger is back as head coach, Aaron Craft, William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler, stalwarts of Ohio State teams from the early-2010s, all return, as well as Jeff Gibbs (Otterbein University), who was an absolute muscle in the paint for the team in 2019. He will get some help from Dallas Lauderdale this year, too, and other important additions have been made: Lenzelle Smith and Deshaun Thomas, two more key components of Ohio State’s success in the 2010s.
Thomas was supposed to be on the team in 2019, but it didn’t work out. He’s on the roster for 2020, though, and should make a big difference for Carmen’s Crew. Last season, Thomas was a big contributor for Panathinaikos (Greece), averaging double-figure scoring in the Greek Basket League and EuroLeague, a common achievement for the player throughout his six-year overseas career. Carmen’s Crew already had a plethora of high-octane scoring options. Now with Thomas, there’s another lethal weapon opponents have to handle.
House of ‘Paign removed War Tampa from TBT 2020, 76-53, behind 56 combined points from Mike Daum (South Dakota State), Andres Feliz (Illinois) and Malcolm Hill (Illinois). Daum also cleaned it up on the glass, hauling in 13 rebounds, 11 of which came on the defensive end, as his team whooped War Tampa back to Florida.
Daum was one of the best scorers in NCAA history during his college days, and his inclusion on House of ‘Paign immediately made it one rip for a Cinderella run. Carmen’s Crew will have to keep him in check in order to move on to the event’s quarterfinals.
Containing Daum won’t totally stop this team, though. Feliz and Hill can fill up the stat sheet, too, and Kyle Vinales (Central Connecticut State) brings half-a-decade of overseas experience with him to run the point. Carmen’s Crew is no question the favorite to win this game, but House of ‘Paign has the tools to send home the reigning champs. Don’t sleep on them.