Featuring more than 60 current or former NBA players, two dozen college alumni teams, all four semifinalists from 2017 and the team that's won it all three years in a row, 72 squads will compete across the country for a winner-take-all prize of two million dollars this summer. The Basketball Tournament's 2018 field was unveiled Wednesday and the fifth edition of Jon Mugar's summer classic might be the best one yet.
The tournament is a single-elimination, winner-take-all summer event with plenty of former NBA stars serving as as either players, coaches or general managers. Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore will serve as tournament ambassadors.
Former top-ten NBA draft picks Jimmer Fredette and Eddy Curry, 2007 All-Star Josh Howard and 2017 NBA champion Matt Barnes headline the field of players playing for the $2 million cash prize. Veteran guards Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison will serve as coaches.
Overseas Elite, a squad of top-tier Americans playing on foreign soil, returns to defend its title. The team has won TBT for three straight years and has collected a whopping $5 million as a group.
New to the event this year are a pair of pods, two mini four team tournaments composed solely of alumni from various collegiate basketball powerhouses. The winner of each pod books a trip to the Super 16. There's a total of 27 alumni teams in the field, and 21 players that participated in the NCAA Tournament this March.
Alumni teams from Georgetown, Seton Hall, Marquette and St. John's form the Big East pod in the Northeast Regional. Patrick Ewing, Jr. is the coach and GM of Jack Attack, the Georgetown alumni squad. The Northeast quadrant is otherwise headlined by one-seed Boeheim's Army, a squad of Syracuse alums that's been part of four TBTs and made the final four a year ago, as well as two-seed HBC Sicklerville, a squad full of guys from the Euroleague led by former NBA guard Mike James.
TBT has also partnered with Hoopfest, an annual three-on-three summer tournament in Spokane, Washington, to send a pod of alumni teams to compete in five-on-five action in the West Regional. Alumni from Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Utah and Air Force will duke it out for a spot in the final sixteen. Any further progress might be tricky: the West also features four-seed Sons of Westwood, a UCLA alumni team led by Matt Barnes and top seed Challenge ALS.
Perhaps the most inspiring team in the tournament, Challenge ALS is led by former Boston College forward Sean Marshall and supports those stricken by ALS. They came close to knocking off Overseas Elite in the finals last year. The team features Collison as coach and adds 2014 NBA champ Jeff Ayres to its stable of talent.
Overseas Elite is undefeated in 19 TBT games over the last three years and claims the top seed in the South Regional this time around. They return nearly all of their championship roster, including two-time TBT MVP Kyle Fogg. Two-seed Ram Nation, a popular team of VCU alums that will be playing at home in Richmond and five-seed Wake The Nation, a Wake Forest alumni team led by school legend Josh Howard, are expected to be formidable opponents.
The Midwest Regional could be the most intriguing of the bunch. Top seeds Scarlet & Gray, a batch of Buckeye alums fresh off a double-overtime loss to Team Challenge ALS in last year's semis, returns with Jared Sullinger leading the charge. Elsewhere in the region, former fourth-overall pick Eddy Curry will try to lead 16-seed Charlotte Chess Center into the field, four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo is at the helm of six-seed Team Rondo, and former National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette will spearhead two-seed Team Fredette as he makes an NBA comeback bid. There's also four-seed Big X, a squad of recent alumni from across the Big Ten, including Duncan Robinson, Andrew Dakich and Jae'sean Tate.
The field has been decided, but TBT founder Jon Mugar still has a decision to make: will the fifth edition of his event bring back the Elam Ending, which made its organized basketball debut in TBT's Jamboree round in 2017? Mugar says the experiment to clean up the ends of basketball games was a success last year in a small sample size, but are the benefits of this unique idea large enough to warrant bringing it into a tournament with so much on the line?
TBT 2018 tips off with pod play in Spokane from June 29-30 and in Milwaukee from June 30-July 1. The championship, with the winners taking home all of two million dollars, is set for August 3 in Baltimore. Games will be broadcast on ESPN's networks.