If you have been reading Xavier Twitter in the summer months you could be forgiven for thinking that The Basketball Tournament was about to get underway. Even here we are gearing up to watch JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett take the floor again under the watchful eyes of Dee Davis. The reality, though, is that while Team Zip Em Up has yet to play, the quarterfinals of TBT are nearly set.
TBT takes place in four regionals, just like the NCAA tournament. The major difference, in addition to the rule changes, professionals playing, the Elam Ending, and a host of other things, is that The Basketball Tournament doesn’t take place all at the same time. Two regionals are in play right now, while two will start up this weekend. The teams all converge in Dayton for Championship Week, which kicks off with each regional final (quarterfinals) before heading into the Final Four.
Eberlein Drive is the team of the tournament so far. The team, comprised mostly of players from the state of Kentucky, hammered the Stillwater Stars 119-67. The drama of the Elam Ending is somewhat reduced with a final score like that. They will meet Florida TNT (no points for guessing where they are from) for a shot at the quarterfinals.
Their opponent will come from the winner of a game between Team Challenge ALS, who are raising money for ALS research in their run, and The Aftershocks, a team of Wichita State alumni. ALS’ roster includes Mount Union standout and YouTube basketball star D’Vontay Friga, who is always entertaining to watch and listen to. The Aftershocks went on a 7-0 run against the Creighton alums to win their game and get to this point. Connor Frankamp has led the way for a team filled with players from back before Wichita State became massively overrated.
In the other nearly complete region the Bucketneers of ETSU have advanced as a 12 seed to meet Team Sideline Cancer. Sideline Cancer was a finalist last year and got here by beating a Fort Wayne team that somehow managed 71 points without getting any from their bench. Remy Abell scored eight for Sideline Cancer.
The other game will feature Team 23 against Best Virginia. Team 23 features a roster full of basketball fan deep cuts including Raphiael Putney of UMass, Daniel Ochefu, and Miami Ohio’s Eric Washington. Best Virginia knocked off a team of D2 stars to get here. Best is comprised of West Virginia alums and includes 2010 Final Four vets John Flowers and Kevin Jones, as well as Juwan Staten of WVA and Dayton fame. Perhaps the best player on Best Virginia doesn’t play, but is their assistant coach Da’Sean Butler.
That’s where The Basketball Tournament stands for now. Games will be played tonight and Wednesday before the action switches over to the other two regions on the weekend. Zip Em Up will be the final game of that first round of action, not tipping until 8PM on the 24th.