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.
Overseas Elite begins its TBT 2020 journey, Floyd Mayweather’s rebranded The Money Team will make its debut, and Herd That and Armored Athletes are here to spoil their welcome parties. You can’t look away, not even for a day.
TBT 2020 Day 6 Matchups
All times Eastern.
7 The Money Team vs. 23 Herd That (Marshall alumni) (2 p.m., ESPN)
Team Fredette had a makeover in the last year, and with the help of Floyd Mayweather, it’s now The Money Team.
There are some holdovers from the past – Jordon Crawford (Bowling Green) and Jeff Ledbetter (Idaho) are still on the squad, plus general managers Dan Britten and TJ Fredette continue to run the show – but there have been some serious alterations. Nick Johnson (Arizona), a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, joins the team after averaging 11.4 points and 4.9 assists per game for Turk Telekom (Turkey) in 2019-20. He brings a great mix of scoring and distribution, especially for someone who can line up as the 2-guard, and he will be finding teammates like Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) and Willie Reed (Saint Louis) when he drives and dishes or kicks. With help from Tony Wroten (Washington) at the point guard position, too, The Money Team could argue it has the best backcourt in TBT 2020.
I would be remiss to not mention Bryce Alford and Thomas Welsh, too, who were teammates at UCLA from 2014-17. I used to really enjoy watching those Bruins squad. They were some of the most lopsided teams I can remember in terms of valuing offense compared to defense. I’d watch them run fantastic offense, with great movement and individual plays, then come back on defense and do their best pylons impressions. For my own personal enjoyment, I’d like to see how similar or different Alford and Welsh play now a few years removed from college and not in that UCLA system. Maybe they’ll try to defend this time?
On the other side, Herd That is coming off an 80-65 victory over Peoria All-Stars in the first round. Jacorey Williams (Middle Tennessee) had himself known in that one, putting up 22 points and nine rebounds on the night. But the story of the game was less about his individual performance and more about the great style of ball Herd That played collectively. Jon Elmore, the top scorer in Marshall history, only had nine points. But he dished 10 dimes, some of which went to his brother, Ot Elmore (Marshall), who shot well from deep. The inside-out attack Herd That brings should concern any opponent. You better guard the perimeter to stop the three and from letting the ball easily enter the paint if you want to beat these guys.
In the first game, Steve Browning (Marshall) went down with an ankle injury and had to leave the game. His availability for this one is unknown at the moment, and if Herd That is without him or if his game is significantly limited, it will definitely create a hole that will be difficult to fill. It wouldn’t be a death blow necessarily as both Elmores can make good decisions with the ball in their hands, but having one fewer dangerous guard on the perimeter in a tournament like this certainty wouldn’t help. His status is something to watch.
2 Overseas Elite vs. 15 Armored Athlete (4 p.m., ESPN)
Overseas Elite is TBT royalty. Anyone who has watched this event for even a few years knows the team and knows the fear it strikes in the hearts of opponents. Overseas Elite won the four-straight TBT titles and carried a perfect all-time record into its game with Carmen’s Crew in 2019. That perfection was ended, and Carmen’s Crew took home the money. But now Overseas Elite is back and with some major additions to its roster.
The first name I have to mention is Joe Johnson (Arkansas). Yes, that Joe Johnson. The one who played in the NBA from 2001 to 2018, was a seven-time NBA All-Star and averaged double-digit scoring in the league in 13 of his 17 seasons. He is known as Iso Joe for a reason: the man can flat-out score the basketball. You don’t need me to go much further into who Joe Johnson is. If you have watched hoops pretty much at all in the last 20 years, you know what’s up with Joe Johnson.
Plenty of regulars are back for Overseas Elite, too, like Paris Horne (St. John’s), Justin Burrell (St. John’s) and Pooh Jeter (Portland). It’s Overseas Elite, people. They’re going to be good.
Armored Athlete took out Power of the Paw (Clemson alumni) in the first round, 98-91, behind 26 points via John Roberson (Texas Tech) and another 23 from Scott Machado (Iona). In my preview of that one, I mentioned Machado heavily and explained how excited I was to see him. He did not disappoint me. Along with his points, he also chipped in four assists and commanded control of the court, as he is known to do. Machado will continue to be a must-watch player for as long as he remains in TBT 2020.
Other than Machado and Roberson, pay attention to Josh Bostic. While in college at Findlay, Bostic won a national championship and was named the 2009 NABC Division II Player of the Year. He has been balling out overseas since, making appearances in Japan, France, Belgium and more, plus a short stint with the Detroit Pistons in 2014. Bostic hit the game winner in the Elam Ending and finished with 15 points on the night. He could be a secondary player to watch for Armored Athlete whose production will be necessary for the team to find further success at TBT 2020.