Eight Sleeper Teams to Watch in TBT 2019

 

By: Bryant Baucom | @Bryant_Baucom02


Make sure to fill out your TBT bracket by July 19 at 1 pm EST

Wondering who will play Cinderella in TBT 2019? Here are eight teams to watch out for as you fill out your bracket!

 

Columbus: No. 6 seed The Region

Heading into 2019 TBT play, Carmen’s Crew (Ohio St. alumni) is the prohibitive favorite to earn one of the eight invites to Championship Week in Chicago. Following their Quarterfinal appearance in 2018, anything short of the final eight would be a disappointment. With the spotlight on the shoulders of the home team, the bid stealer opportunity in Columbus comes in the form of The Region. The star-studded roster features the likes of five 1,000-point scorers in college, along with NBA experience in the form of Branden Dawson.

The Region possesses the perfect combination of traditional post play and perimeter shooting that could spell trouble for first-round opponent Red Scare (Dayton alumni). With Isaiah Swann, an excellent three-point shooter and distributor, running the offense, the pick-and-roll is a viable option with Dawson, Akil Mitchell, and Jarrod Jones in the frontcourt. Utilizing the trio of big men, The Region can use their size advantage to dominate on the boards and earn second chance points or open up room for their knockdown shooters.

While many TBT teams have explosive scorers, not many have the lockdown defenders found on The Region’s roster. In addition to Mitchell (2014 ACC All-Defensive Team) and Dawson (2015 B1G All-Defensive Team), LD Williams (2x ACC All-Defensive Team) and Malcolm Griffin (2017 Baltic League Defensive Player of the Year) provide the shutdown defense that could lead to three big wins in Columbus.

Not only does The Region bring TBT experience and a successful playing style, but they also have a proven winner in TBT at the helm. In 2018, Head Coach Lee Toldson guided Louisiana United to back-to-back double-digit wins before falling to eventual champion, Overseas Elite, 87-86 in the Super 16. With The Region’s dominant defense, big-time scoring, and an experienced head coach, look for them to make some serious noise in Columbus come July 19th.

 

Greensboro: No. 6 seed Team 23

Coming into the Greensboro Regional, there is no stand-alone juggernaut. Team CP3 brings the advantage with Chris Paul at the helm and Team Hines is looking to replicate the success of Overseas Elite. As an overseas all-star team, they seem to be the presumptive favorite in an otherwise unknown regional. With the edge in experience, Team 23 proves to be a worthy Cinderella with a chance to punch their ticket to Chicago.

Davin White is at the head of Team 23, coming into TBT as one of the most lethal scorers in the tournament’s history. With a plethora of bucket-getters, the Doug Gottlieb-led team is nothing short of explosive on offense. Pepperdine’s all-time leading scorer, Stacy Davis, and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne’s all-time leading scorer, Frank Gaines, will provide White with the assistance needed to make some noise and be serious contenders in Greensboro. On the defensive end, Larry Owens and Cady Lalanne provide the shot-blocking and rebounding necessary to prevent second-chance opportunities. Owens, who has NBA experience, earned MCC Player of the Year honors at Oral Roberts, while Lalanne is one of three players in UMass history to finish his career with 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, and 100 blocks.

As unfamiliarity lies within the Greensboro Regional, the depth on both the offensive and defensive ends for Team 23 makes them a tough out before Championship Week. Look for them as potential upsets picks over No. 3 seed Power of the Paw and No. 2 seed Team CP3.

 

Lexington: No. 4 seed Team KBC

Making their debut in TBT, Team KBC features some familiar names amongst the college basketball landscape. Former SEC Player of the Year and All-American, Chris Lofton, will take the court alongside former Horizon League Player of the Year and All-American, Matt Howard, when Team KBC faces off against the Peoria Allstars. Joining Lofton and Howard will be Eastern Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer, Nick Mayo, and former NAIA National Player of the Year, Vic Moses.

Coming into Lexington, Team KBC will have the most high-powered offense in the regional, leaving little room for error for their opponents. Although July 19th will feature their debut in TBT, the roster features names who have participated on college basketball’s biggest stage. Lofton broke the SEC 3-point field goal record en route to leading Tennessee to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances during his final two seasons in Knoxville. Head Coach Shelvin Mack and Howard were the foundation of the back-to-back National Championship appearances for Butler in 2010 and 2011. The duo combined for 87 wins and three Horizon League championships in their three seasons together.

 For Team KBC, the path to Chicago is a tough one. Standing in their way is Demarcus Cousins’-led squad Loyalty is Love, who brings the most depth and star power to Lexington. With a first-round victory, KBC and Loyalty Is Love will square off for a spot in the Lexington Regional championship. The experience and high-powered offense of Team KBC presents a strong case for a sleeper team in TBT 2019.

 

Memphis: No. 3 seed Team Arkansas

As the No. 3 seed in the Memphis Regional, Team Arkansas (Arkansas alumni) may not appear to many as the traditional sleeper. However, with a first-round matchup against Louisiana United, a team who is returning a handful of players from their 2018 Super 16 run, they will be tested from the opening tip. As they would seemingly be underdogs against Bluff City and the loaded Gael Force, a run to Chicago would feature a handful of upsets along the way.

Led by head coach and NBA veteran, Bobby Portis, Team Arkansas has a roster littered with talent. NBA veteran Ronnie Brewer was the 14th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and has played in 549 games in his decorated career. Complementing the experienced guard, Kevaughn Allen and Matt Jones provide the Razorback alumni team with an influx of scoring. Allen finished his Florida career in 2019 ranked sixth all-time on the school’s scoring list with 1,763 points, while Jones averaged 12.7 PPG in 2018-2019 for the Stockton Kings. Anthlon Bell’s presence will be felt from behind the arc, as he led Arkansas in three-point shooting in his four years in Fayetteville. 6’10” forwards Moses Kingsley and Vincent Hunter bring the much-needed rim protection, helping put together an all-round solid lineup in Memphis.

After a first-round victory in TBT 2018, Team Arkansas has all of the pieces necessary to put together a winning streak and a deep run in TBT 2019. As the Memphis Regional begins play on Friday, watch out for the SEC-laden squad to bust some brackets in hopes of earning a bid to Championship Week in Chicago.

 

Richmond: No. 6 seed The Web

With four-time reigning champions Overseas Elite seeking another undefeated run in TBT, they are the obvious favorites coming out of the Richmond regional. The hometown team, Ram Nation, provides the greatest challenge to the TBT juggernaut, but the other Richmond team in TBT 2019 has a legitimate shot to turn some heads. The Web, making their TBT debut, has the advantage of being unfamiliar to their opponents, making the scouting aspect difficult.

As a younger TBT team, the quickness and athleticism of The Web makes for an interesting team to watch. Leading the way for the Richmond alumni team is former Atlantic-10 Player of the Year and All-American Honorable Mention, T.J. Cline, and former NBA guard, Justin Harper. Harper helped lead the Spiders to back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2010 and 2011, including a Sweet 16 appearance before falling to No. 1 seed Kansas. The duo provides the quintessential big man/guard combination that can lead to a deep tournament run.

While Cline and Harper provide tremendous skill to The Web, their seeding is the best thing they have going for them. Earning the No. 6 seed means that they would not face Overseas Elite until the final game of the Richmond Regional. Although facing another hometown team in Ram Nation would be a tall task, one more game between them and the reigning champions provides the possibility of the beauty of TBT, an upset. As TBT heads to Richmond on July 26th, don’t underestimate The Web or the presence of the Richmond fans.

 

Syracuse: No. 5 seed Gael Nation

If there is one word to describe the Syracuse Regional in TBT 2019, it’s experience. Two of the eight teams – Boeheim’s Army and Armored Athlete – made the Super 16 in 2018, while both Gael Nation and Team Fancy earned victories in TBT 2018. Boeheim’s Army heads into July 26th as the favorite to secure a ticket to Championship Week, while Armored Athlete poses the biggest threat to stop the hometown team. Not to be overlooked is Gael Nation, an alumni team from Iona College. For Gael Nation, TBT 2018 ended in heartbreaking fashion, losing to Armored Athlete 75-73, watching hopelessly as Julian Gamble sank the game-winning free throw.

With revenge on their minds and an experienced roster, Gael Nation has added Rickey McGill, a two-time All-MAC selection and 1,000-point scorer. The duo of McGill and Steven Burtt, a three-time All-MAC selection and the 2019 Greek League Top Scorer, gives Gael Nation a tenacious backcourt in Syracuse. On the defensive end, Javier Carter, the 2011-2012 Sun Belt leader in blocks, supplies a powerful presence in the paint. With Boeheim’s Army having an abundance of solid guard play, a rim protector and shot blocker is the key to pulling of a potential second round upset.

Iona College has reached six NCAA tournaments since 2012, and Gael Nation’s roster is flooded with experience in TBT and the big dance. With Boeheim’s Army looking to protect their home floor, the Gaels will look to make history in upstate New York.

 

Salt Lake: No. 4 seed Sons of Westwood

The Salt Lake Regional features the 2018 runner-up in Eberlein Drive and a semifinalist in Team Fredette. The possibility of Jimmer Fredette returning to action on July 25th gives the strongest regional in TBT the chance to get even better. With all eyes on the two TBT powerhouses, Sons of Westwood brings a talented roster, as they try to replicate the success of their Super 16 appearance from a year ago.

Not many TBT teams have the luxury of their roster including an NBA first-round pick, but Jordan Adams provides the UCLA alumni team with just that. As the 22nd overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2015 NBA Draft, Adams has appeared in 36 career NBA games, joining Malcolm Lee as one of the two NBA draft picks donning the blue and gold. Both NBA and G-League experience are prevalent throughout their roster, giving them a chance to play against the best talent night in and night out. Six of the nine players on the roster have seen action in the NBA, while Shizz Alston, a 2019 Temple University graduate, averaged 8.0 PPG for the Indiana Pacers in the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League.

When Sons of Westwood faces off against the L.A. Cheaters on July 25th, Adams will lead the charge for the Bruins, behind the likes of Alston, Lee, Larry Drew II and the Wear twins. The invaluable NBA experience gives the UCLA alumni the chance to snag a bid away from Eberlein Drive or Team Fredette, as they chase the $2 million prize in Chicago.

 

Wichita: No. 4 seed Team Colorado

The Wichita Regional contains a plethora of college alumni teams, with the Golden Eagles (Marquette Alumni) and AfterShocks (Wichita State Alumni) stealing the headlines heading into TBT 2019. Overlooked among the powerhouses and the first-year Kansas alumni team (Self Made), is Team Colorado (Colorado Alumni). A victim of a loaded regional, the Boulder Boys appear to be one of the toughest No. 4 seeds in the tournament.

Appearing in 192 NBA games in his career, Chris Copeland leads the charge for Team Colorado, bringing experience and leadership to the court. Richard Roby, tied for first all-time in Colorado history in scoring with 2,001 points, looks to replicate his 2018 TBT performance where he averaged 16.5 PPG. A polished all-round player, Roby finished his collegiate career top 10 in scoring, rebounding, and assists. Alongside Roby, Marcus Hall poured in 15.0 PPG in TBT 2018, providing Team Colorado with an abundance of scoring when they square off with Purple & Black (Kansas State alumni) in Wichita. In addition to his scoring ability, Hall knows how to get his teammates involved, having dished out over 400 assists in his collegiate career.

With all their TBT experience, an argument can be made that Team Colorado holds the advantage over two higher seeds, AfterShocks and Self-Made. When they tip-off against Purple & Black on July 26th, their 2019 TBT journey could be just beginning.