- The Round of 24 tips off on the Fourth of July and runs through July 14 with all games being played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
- TBT is the first nationally-televised team basketball event in the U.S. since the NBA suspended its season in March due to the coronavirus pandemic
- Overseas Elite enters as the slight favorite at +150 – read below for odds, analysis and our picks
The Round of 24 portion of the winner-take-all hoops event known as The Basketball Tournament returns for a seventh edition Saturday. All games will be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio and be broadcast on ESPN. The championship team, crowned July 14, earns $1 million.
The Basketball Tournament 2020 Odds
|Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State)||+200|
|Golden Eagles (Marquette)||+450|
|Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse)||+700|
|The Money Team||+1000|
|Team Challenge ALS||+1200|
|Red Scare (Dayton)||+1500|
|House of ‘Paign (Illinois)||+2200|
|House of Paign (Illinois)||+2200|
|Playing for Jimmy V||+3000|
Odds taken July 3
TBT features hoops talent from around the world and uses four, 9-minute quarters. Players are disqualified upon their sixth personal foul (like in the NBA) and bonus free throws follow NCAA women’s and FIBA rules — with two free throws on the fifth and subsequent non-shooting fouls by the defense in a quarter.
There are no overtime games. Instead, organizers have adopted the “Elam Ending.” Named after Ball State University professor Nick Elam. The game clock is turned off at the first whistle with up to four minutes remaining of the final quarter. The teams then play to a target score, with the shot clock still enforced. The first team to meet or exceed the target score wins. The target score is eight points more than the leading team’s/tied score. And starting this year, if the defensive team commits a non-shooting foul during the Elam Ending with the offensive team in the bonus, the offense will receive one free throw plus possession.
Now, let’s handicap the teams with the best shot to win it all.
There are several reasons why Overseas Elite is TBT’s chalk. The unit won four straight championships between 2015-18 — so it has title experience. But Elite also features three of the top 10 players in the tourney (according to ESPN), starting with Joe Johnson.
Johnson, who starred for the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks, last played in the NBA two years ago in a Houston Rockets uniform. Johnson is by far the biggest name to take the court in Columbus. But he’s far from the only familiar face on the Elite squad for hoops junkies.
The Overseas outfit also boasts D.J. Kennedy and 13-year NBA veteran Jarrett Jack. Kennedy has historically stepped up his game in this event. He was the TBT MVP in 2015 and 2018 and the former St. John’s forward dropped 24 points in the 2015 final. He also did it all in 2017, averaging 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Meantime, Jack has played for nine NBA teams and last saw action in the league with New York Knicks.
The Elite squad was our pick to win it all last year (when they were a nice value pick at +400). But ultimately, the 2019 title tilt saw Carmen’s Crew square off against the Golden Eagles. What about those groups’ respective shots this year?
First of all, I love defending champion Crew’s chances in 2020 simply because they’re playing in Columbus. The relative familiarity with surroundings tournament organizers are calling “The Island” (a collection of venues — the hotel, a convention center and the arena) — should serve this year’s edition of Carmen’s Crew well.
2019 tourney MVP William Buford returns — as does point guard Aaron Craft.
This is Craft’s basketball swan song, as the former Buckeye standout is starting medical school shortly. You have to figure his teammates not only want to defend their title — but win one for Craft.
At +200, the Crew has intangibles on their side.
The Marquette alumni team came close to winning it all last year, losing 66-60 to Carmen’s Crew in the championship game in Chicago.
This year’s team, led by William Buycks, is hungry to avenge that loss and seem to be entering the tourney with the right odds at +450.
Buycks averaged the fifth-most points in TBT last year and has played well overseas. He was the French Pro A Foreign MVP and has the ability to take over a game in a hurry because of his knack for easy buckets.
The Eagles could soar into Ohio and come away flying high.
Which underdog could make a deep run and pay dividends?
On the shorter side, Boeheim’s Army has an intriguing roster that includes Eric Devendorf and Malachi Richardson. Devendorf is a two-time scoring champ in New Zealand’s National Basketball League. And Richardson is a former first round pick in the NBA Draft (the Charlotte Hornets selected him No. 22 in 2016).
At +700, don’t be surprised if the former Syracuse Orange crew make a run.
Then there’s +3000 longshots Playing for Jimmy V. I mention this squad only because Hasheem Thabeet is lacing it up. The former No. 2 overall pick in the NBA and two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year last played in the league five years ago with the Lakers. But if the 33-year-old plays well, it could turn into an audition for an NBA team looking to add veteran experience after the COVID-19-ravaged 2019-20 season.
At the end of the day though, I’m going with Overseas Elite to win TBT for the fifth time in seven tries. There’s just too much talent to overlook.
The pick: Overseas Elite (+150)