Herd That, Sideline Cancer Continue Cinderella Runs

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.

The two Cinderellas of TBT 2020 – Herd That and Sideline Cancer – are set to play their quarterfinals matchups today. Both will be underdogs, but that’s a position they’re used to. On the other sides, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, one of which has won TBT four times. It’ll be the ultimate day of David versus Goliath, and I can’t wait.

TBT 2020 Day 8 Matchups

All times Eastern.

2 Overseas Elite vs. 23 Herd That (Marshall alumni) (2 p.m., ESPN)

Overseas Elite never trailed in its showdown with Armored Athlete, coming through eventually, 76-70. Depth was one of Overseas Elite’s biggest advantages, and it capitalized. The team had five different players score in double figures and outpaced Armored Athlete in bench points, 29-17. Joe Johnson (Arkansas) – yes, the Joe Johnson – had a solid debut in TBT, posting 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, five rebounds and four assists, but it was Pooh Jeter (Portland) who stole the offensive show with a game-high 22-point performance.

Armored Athlete made a run toward the end of the contest and provided moment of resistance at times, but the experience, aggressiveness and widespread talent on Overseas Elite was noticeably too much for the side to overcome. Even though most of the players who won Overseas Elite four TBT titles aren’t in Columbus for TBT 2020, the team holds a lot of the same strengths those previous versions did. Defensively, it’s very difficult to choose which player or players to key in on, because this team has a handful of capable scorers, believes in itself deeply and will unselfishly share the ball to spread out the attack. And this team will get out and run when given the opportunity, as evidenced by 22 points from turnovers and 12 fast break points against Armored Athlete, making it that much more difficult to defend them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAyWme5v0vE

Don’t forget, too: Overseas Elite held Scott Machado (Iona), one of the players I’ve talked up the most at TBT 2020 and one of the best passers in the competition, to 11 points and four assists with five turnovers, which might not sound incredible, but with how talented he is, that’s a massive victory and likely made the difference in this one. So, for how impressive Overseas Elite can be offensively, the effort it puts in on the defensive side of the floor is what allows them to play in transition and control the tempo of the game.

Overseas Elite will be favored in this one against Herd That, which certainly won’t bother the Marshall alumni. The No. 23 seed in TBT 2020 has captured the hearts of regular people everywhere as they’ve watched Ot Elmore (Marshall) help lead his team to the quarterfinals despite looking like a mechanic. Herd That pulled off one of the best comebacks in TBT history in the Round of 16 against The Money Team, 102-99.

Herd That gave up 40 points (!!!!!!) in the first quarter, and while it’s tough to call Herd That a good defensive team, it clamped down relatively from there on out and only allowed 59 points in the last three periods. But the offensive end is where this team makes its salt. Chris Cokley (UAB) had 32 and Jacorey Williams (Middle Tennesse) put up 30, Zach Smith (Texas Tech) stayed above the rim for 12 points and five boards, and Jon Elmore (Marshall) served up 10 dimes as he took a backseat in the scoring department.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3n-cfF3x-I

“We never got nervous,” Jon Elmore said. “We battled, we took away some of those looks. It’s back to everyone being on the same page [defensively].”

The Marshall alumni also killed The Money Team in transition, outscoring them 25-9 in fast break points. This squad is a legitimate offensive juggernaut right now, and opponents need to respect how well this team moves and shares the ball. Herd That already wasn’t supposed to be here. Why not one more?

3 Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse alumni) vs. 22 Sideline Cancer (4 p.m., ESPN)

In the Round of 16, Boeheim’s Army handled Men of Mackey (Purdue alumni), 76-69, as Eric Devendorf didn’t look a day over 32 with his game-high 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. The former ‘Cuse guard has been one of the most important players for Boeheim’s Army squads in previous TBTs, and it seems like TBT 2020 will be similar.

Devendorf’s performance wasn’t the only important note from the game. While playing some man-to-man defense, Boeheim’s Army held Justin Dentmon (Washington) to just 13 points after he put up 33 on HEARTFIRE in the last round. Jim Boeheim must have watched from home in disgust, shaking his fist at the thought of his army playing defense like infidels, but ultimately, some part of him had to enjoy seeing his Orange alumni holding it down on that side of the floor. He at least respected forcing 18 turnovers and nabbing 11 steals. Even if it wasn’t done properly.

The other story for Boeheim’s Army came at the free-throw line. As a team, it shot 28-of-32 from the charity stripe, effectively getting the line and capitalizing on nearly every opportunity provided. This is especially impressive considering the nature of TBT – the Elam Ending makes fouling at the end of the game a poor strategy, and the officials definitely let a lot of contact go in this event – and if it can continue, Boeheim’s Army will be really difficult for anyone to beat.

Sideline Cancer is one of the other low seeds still around after pulling an upset, and it’s looking to make it three for three on knocking out higher seeds. Point guard Marcus Keene (Central Michigan) has been one of the biggest stars of TBT 2020 so far, coolly hitting the game winner in the Elam Ending in Sideline Cancer’s first game against Team Hines, then followed it up with 16 points and six assists versus Team Challenge ALS in the Round of 16. Sideline Cancer will not win this game without an influential performance from Keene. He’s the straw that stirs the drink.

That doesn’t mean he’s the only one on the team worthy of attention. Remy Abell (Xavier) has been having himself a nice tournament, too, scoring 17 in each of Sideline Cancer’s first two games and draining the game-winning triple against Team Challenge ALS. Eric Thompson (Pacific) has pulled in 23 total rebounds in two games and had a double-double in the Round of 16 on 15 points and 13 boards. And Maurice Creek (Indiana/George Washington) has been a steady secondary scoring option for the team.

“It’s easy when everyone knows how to play basketball the right way,” Keene said. “We trust each other. Coach (Charles Parker) trusted us to do our thing.”

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