Bluegrass Boys ready for revenge after suffering historic 2016 upset


By: Zachary Dupont

Three years after becoming the first one-seed to lose to a 16-seed, the Bluegrass Boys are back

No college basketball program is synonymous with the word "winning" quite like the University of Kentucky. With 17 Final Four appearances, 125 NBA draft selections, and eight national championships, you can’t talk hoops without paying homage to the team down in Lexington. 

Given this success, you’d be forgiven for not remembering the Bluegrass Boys’ last run in TBT back in 2016.   

The Kentucky alumni squad entered the Midwest Regional as the top seed and were viewed as a serious threat to win the entire tournament. However, that sense of optimism only lasted one game. Behind 24 points from Tarius Johnson, the 16th-seeded Jackson TN Underdawgs cruised to a 87-78  opening round win over the Bluegrass Boys. To add insult to injury, it was the first-time in TBT history that a 16-seed upset a one-seed. 

While it has since become apparent that the Underdawgs were criminally underrated, the experience served as a wake-up call for General Manager Mark Krebs. The lesson was simple: you need to pull out all stops to win in TBT. 

“I appreciate all the guys who came out last time,” said Krebs. “It was disappointing, but it was difficult logistically.”


Krebs ran into a multitude of issues when assembling his 2016 squad. From conflicting schedules to a pure lack of experience putting together a team, Krebs was left with a roster that he viewed as incomplete.

“We didn’t have fifty percent of our roster there,” said Krebs. “We arguably could have been the best team in [the tournament] if we had our full roster.” 

Three years later, the Bluegrass Boys are finally ready to seek revenge.

Krebs has assured Big Blue Nation that there will be no roster deficiencies on this squad when they host the Lexington Regional from July 19-21 at Frederick Douglas High School. Thanks to his experience in 2016, extra time to plan, the luxury of playing in Lexington, and the help of the Bluegrass Sports Commission, the squad is finally ready to treat the hometown fans to the TBT team they deserve.

“We will be able to field the team that we want on the court from the beginning,” said Krebs. “Having our fans be a part of it is everything. I don’t think we could be more excited to be in Lexington in front of our fans again.” 

While he’s not prepared to make any roster announcements quite yet, Krebs has narrowed his list of targets down to 24 players from all different eras of Kentucky basketball. The one common theme? They’ve all expressed an interest in righting the wrong that was TBT 2016.

“The fact that we can play here in Lexington will make the tournament that much more exciting,” said Krebs. 

“This is going to be a region that will be really fun and exciting here at home for everyone involved.”