This year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament is unique for a multitude of reasons. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event is positioned to offer American fans the first televised team basketball event since the NBA suspended its season in March. But the TBT will also benefit from an abundance of talent, including multiple players from the G-League and overseas circuits, that seeks to impress pro scouts on the national stage. Who will take home the $1 million prize? Our in-house TBT enthusiasts weighed in with their “final four” picks.
Myron Medcalf: Carmen’s Crew, Golden Eagles, Overseas Elite, Boeheim’s Army
The “final four” seems clear to me. Look for defending champion Carmen’s Crew, 2019 runner-up Golden Eagles, four-time champ Overseas Elite and Boeheim’s Army to all enter the semifinals and compete for the crown and $1 million prize.
Carmen’s Crew, the team backed by William Buford and other former Ohio State players, has an advantage this year with Columbus, Ohio, hosting the event. The squad has already started team practices, since most of its players live in the same location. They’ll avoid the toll of traveling in a pandemic and they return every key player from last year. The Golden Eagles are back, however, to compete for the crown again. Last year’s title game was tight until the Marquette-backed group surrendered an 8-0 Elam Ending rally by Carmen’s Crew.
Seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson joining Overseas Elite is the TBT equivalent of Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors in 2016. He gives the four-time champions another legit shooter. But their biggest void in last year’s event came at point guard when Errick McCollum, brother of CJ McCollum, missed the event due to his wedding. McCollum is not listed on this year’s roster.
Boeheim’s Army boasts one of the field’s most talented rosters with four former NBA first-round picks. They can win it, too. But Johnson is the X factor in this field. He’s a legit talent who proved last year he’s still a potent scorer when he won MVP honors in the Big3 and received interest from NBA teams.
With Johnson, Overseas Elite will win this tournament. — Medcalf
Jeff Borzello: Carmen’s Crew, Overseas Elite, Boeheim’s Army, Team CP3
I think it’s hard to make a confident “final four” prediction without including Carmen’s Crew and Overseas Elite. They’re the top two seeds for a reason. Overseas Elite, the 2-seed, has lost one game in TBT history and added Joe Johnson and Pooh Jeter to avoid a repeat of that defeat. They’re experienced, they know the format, and they’re consistent winners. Carmen’s Crew is the only team to ever beat Overseas Elite.
As for the other two teams, I’m going with 3-seed Boeheim’s Army and, to keep it from being completely chalk, 13-seed Team CP3. Boeheim’s Army has tons of talent from Syracuse, and they could probably fire up a 2-3 zone if they had to. CP3 will have chemistry from their AAU days and should have strong balance with the likes of Nate Mason (Minnesota), Dez Wells (Maryland) and P.J. Hairston (North Carolina) on the perimeter and Kennedy Meeks (North Carolina) down low. — Borzello
Seth Greenberg: Carmen’s Crew, Golden Eagles, Boeheim’s Army, Overseas Elite
Carmen’s Crew will have its hands full in their “elite eight” game vs Big X but, although a year older, this team’s chemistry, approach and pedigree will be the difference. Jared Sullinger has a great feel for his guys and always plays to their strengths. William Buford, Aaron Craft and David Lighty give them floor gamers and the toughness needed to make another run. This is rumored to be Craft’s last competitive basketball event, as he is on his way to medical school, but then again, Craft retires more than Conor McGregor.
Golden Eagles will overcome a feisty Eberlein Drive team that has a physical and athletic frontcourt in former NBA player Johnny O’Bryant and another LSU alumnus in Emmitt Williams. The Golden Eagles are led by NBA veteran and the “everyday man,” 38-year-old Travis Diener. This team is as complete as any in TBT. The addition of Darius Johnson-Odom to complement Dwight Buycks will give the Golden Eagles two dynamic floor gamers. Jamil Wilson is the type of bucket-getter who can take over a game. Elgin Cook (Oregon) is a guy who can excel in the TBT while the addition of big man Luke Fischer gives the Golden Eagles a complete roster.
Boeheim’s Army features four former NBA first-round draft choices, but the heart and soul of this team is Eric Devendorf, Brandon Triche and Demetrius Nichols. Devendorf has a competitive spirit second to none, Triche started every game in his college career and is the winningest player in Syracuse history and Nichols just does what is needed in the moment. They will be supported by veteran Donte Greene and bucket-getter Malachi Richardson. This team has multiple players who have finals experience. The only thing missing for Boeheim’s Army is Carmelo Anthony.
The most talented “elite eight” game in TBT history will feature The Money Team vs. Overseas Elite — this will be a true heavyweight fight. The Money Team could have a starting lineup of five players with NBA experience (Austin Daye, Tony Wroten, Wade Baldwin, Willie Reed and Nick Johnson), pros with size, athleticism and versatility. Overseas Elite has former NBA All-Star Joe Johnson, physical point guard Jarrett Jack and dynamic scorers Pooh Jeter and Bobby Brown, but the heart of Overseas Elite is the LeBron James of TBT, D.J. Kennedy. Kennedy is as fierce of a competitor as there is in basketball. He is what his team needs when they need it. He is complemented by his high school teammate DeAndre Kane (Iowa State) — if you look up “tough” in the dictionary you will see a picture of him. I like Overseas Elite to win this game, with their experience and multiple scorers. — Greenberg
Carmine Carcieri: Carmen’s Crew, Golden Eagles, Team Heartfire and Overseas Elite
You can’t bet against defending champs Carmen’s Crew during what is likely to be Aaron Craft’s last run, or Overseas Elite, which has put together the most loaded roster on paper in TBT history. The Golden Eagles seem destined for success with an experienced group. Team Heartfire is a different story as an unproven Cinderella, but I’ll go out on a limb and say former Baylor star Isaiah Austin and Co. have the length and size to catch lightning in a bottle and reach the “final four.” — Carcieri
Paul Biancardi: Carmen’s Crew, Overseas Elite, Golden Eagles and Team Hines
Carmen’s Crew brings a nasty trio of William Buford, Aaron Craft and David Lighty, with Craft the emotional leader and a high-end defender who makes pivotal stops at crunch time.
Overseas Elite has star power and experience. With two-time TBT MVP D.J. Kennedy, and former Iowa state great DeAndre Kane, this team is primed for a deep run. The big name is coming off the bench, as seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson could quickly turn into a go-to guy, while Pooh Jeter offers more NBA depth to potentially win it all.
The Golden Eagles have great chemistry along with talent, as they made it to the semifinals in 2018 and were a game away from winning it all last year. The pieces play well together and the perimeter of Travis Diener, Mo Acker and Andrew Rowsey can light it up from the outside and space the floor. Add center Luke Fischer to defend, score and bang inside along with big time X factor Darius Johnson-Odom, and the Golden Eagles have a championship on their mind.
Team Hines is battle-tested and proven, with a “final four” run last year. The leaders are Kyle Hines and ultra-versatile Nick Calathes. Two frontcourt stars were added in Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and former Horizon League Player of the Year Alec Peters (Valparaiso). Peters shoots it deep and with accuracy at over 40% from beyond the arc. Happ is a high-end facilitator as a big man who averaged a double-double as a senior with the Badgers. A huge roster addition is former Illinois star Brandon Paul, who brings a wealth of experience, talent and toughness to put up big numbers when needed. — Biancardi