- Golden Eagles emerge as favorites to defend title as The Basketball Tournament kicks into high gear
- Following last year’s early exit, Carmen’s Crew return as second favorites, while Sideline Cancer lags as they pursue their first TBT crown
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends as the battle for The Basketball Tournament title heats up
The Golden Eagles have yet to take the court for this year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament, but that has failed to dampen the squad’s position as +370 favorites to repeat as champions.
Made up largely of former members of the Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball team, the Golden Eagles have made steady gains since their first TBT appearance five years ago, including trips to the finals in each of the past two years. However, defending champions can expect to face stiff challenges this time around.
Pegged as the No. 1 seed in the Columbus regional bracket, Carmen’s Crew closely follow as +400 second favorites, while last year’s runners-up Sideline Cancer trail as a +550 bet.
Here’s a look at all the odds and trends as the march begins towards the final of The Basketball Tournament on Tuesday August 3 at University of Dayton Arena.
Odds to Win 2021 TBT
|Team Challenge ALS||+700|
|Zip ‘Em Up||+1100|
|House of ‘Paign||+2500|
|Men of Mackey||+4500|
|The Money Team||+5000|
|Blue Collar U||+9000|
|Always a Brave||+14000|
|Brown & White||+25000|
|The Nerd Team||+50000|
|Playing for Jimmy V||+70000|
|Forces of Seoul||+70000|
|Jackson TN Underdawgs||+70000|
|BC Vahakni City||+70000|
*Odds at DraftKings as of July 20, 2021
Golden Eagles Bring Back Championship Core
The Golden Eagles return to action with the core from last year’s championship team largely intact. Dwight Buycks, Jamil Wilson and Elgin Cook all return to action this time around, and will be joined by former All-Big East shooting guard Vander Blue, who has returned home after spending a season with Golden Eagle Ylli of the Kosovo Basketball Superleague.
— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) July 15, 2020
The Eagles enjoyed the benefit of a much smaller field at last year’s tournament, due to the ongoing pandemic, but have no such luck this time around. While the squad has a favorable matchup with the B1 Ballers, who make their tournament debut as the No. 16 seed in the Illinois Region, things will get tougher very quickly for the Golden Eagles.
In addition to potential matchups with Team Brotherly Love, who have reached the quarters in each of the past two years, the Eagles must also contend with a vastly improved Boeheim’s Army squad.
Boeheim’s Army Intriguing Dark Horses
Comprised primarily of former members of the Syracuse Orange, Boeheim’s Army should get a big boost from the arrival of Chris McCullough and Tyler Lydon. Despite the addition of the talented veteran duo, Boeheim’s Army still find themselves pegged as a No. 3 seed.
— Boeheim's Army (@BoeheimsArmy) July 13, 2021
The club must also overcome past disappointments at this tourney, include a loss to the Golden Eagles in quarterfinal action three years ago. However, a favorable tournament-opening clash against tournament debutants Forces of Seoul has helped fuel Boeheim’s Army respectable position at the sportsbooks, where they still offer considerable value as a +600 bet.
Sideline Cancer Enjoying Fast Start
With four-time TBT champions Overseas Elite taking a pass on this year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament, the door has opened for several contenders to make their first-ever bid for glory.
Among those are two squads that have already advanced to the Regional Semifinals. Sideline Cancer have a lot to prove after falling short as underdogs in last year’s championship game matchup with the Golden Eagles. No. 22 seeds a year ago, this year’s squad is perched as the top seed in the West Virginia Region.
Led by former Central Michigan star Marcus Keene, Sideline Cancer have tallied a pair of wins so far in 2021 TBT action, capped by a 92-71 beatdown of the No. 9 Fort Wayne Champs on Monday night.
Watch the Game Highlights from Sideline Cancer vs. Fort Wayne Champs, 07/19/2021 pic.twitter.com/AkFvOyjZAQ
— TBT (@thetournament) July 19, 2021
Sideline Cancer will face yet another lower seed when they take on the No. 12 Bucketneers on Wednesday, and are unlikely to be fazed by a potential Regional Final date with No. 2 Best Virginia, a team featuring former Mountaineers playing in front of hometown fans.
Carmen’s Crew Seeking Atonement
Carmen’s Crew get set to open their Columbus Region schedule this weekend perched as +120 chalk to reach this year’s TBT final four, and with good reason.
Coached by former Ohio State star Jared Sullinger, the Crew features a lineup dominated by former Buckeyes including veteran shooting guard William Buford. The 31-year-old earned MVP honors during the team’s march to the 2019 TBT crown, and is joined by 2008 NIT champ and two-time French League Finals MVP.
This year also marks the swan song for a key member of that 2019 championship squad. Twice named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Craft is expected to pursue a medical career at the end of this tournament.
The Carmen's Crew roster: Aaron Craft, Keyshawn Woods, William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Evan Ravenel, Kaleb Wesson, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith and Jeff Gibbs.
Jared Sullinger at head coach and Evan Turner at GM. https://t.co/8Hl7HMU8rZ
— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) June 14, 2021
In addition to their championship experience, Carmen’s Crew also benefit from being the top seed in favorable bracket, playing in their home town. Assuming they get past No. 16 Mid-American Unity, the Crew will face one of two teams making their TBT debut this year. And their closest rival on the Columbus bracket, Red Scare, are a team they beat handily in the Columbus Regional final two years ago.
Aiming to atone for last year’s early exit while perched as the tournament’s No. 1 seed, expect Carmen’s Crew to storm through their hometown schedule, on the way to a second TBT championship in three years.
The Pick: Carmen’s Crew (+450)