GUEST COLUMN: The Road to Baltimore

 

By: TJ Young | @aestaylor


TJ Young takes a look at how the four semifinalists got to Baltimore

How They Got Here

Sixty-eight teams eliminated, four teams left. For those of you who missed the quarterfinals last week, it was insane. All four #1 seeds made it to the final eight, but only one #1 seed will advance to the semifinals.

Last year's runner-up, Team Challenge ALS, was surprisingly defeated last weekend by #7 seed Eberlein Drive, who are led by former NBA big man Willie Reed and hot scoring guard Jerome Randle. Against ALS, Randle was the only player to play the whole game. On Sunday, his 29 points led Eberlein Drive to the semifinals.

Jimmer Fredette had an “off” game in the quarterfinals, (OK he still scored 28 on well above 50% shooting), but his teammates really helped out in this one. I was very worried about their game against Greg Oden, Jared Sullinger, and the rest of Scarlet and Gray, but Team Fredette played some incredible team basketball, something that is key for success in a tournament like this. NBA Summer League hero Jack Cooley was outstanding against the Scarlet and Gray bigs, and guards Ra’Shad James and Jordon Crawford combined for 29 points on 7-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc.

One team I got to see in Brooklyn and Atlanta was Boehiem’s Army, and it was truly special. Their Syracuse zone defense was nearly unstoppable all tournament, and players like John Gillon and Hakim Warrick took over the game at times. Unfortunately, the zone defense doesn’t work against elite shooters, and that’s exactly how the Golden Eagles (Marquette) got to the semifinals. The Golden Eagles are undersized, which would explain them shooting 37 3-pointers (making 20), and only attempting eight free throws. They won this game because they hit big shots at the perfect time.

The only remaining #1 seed in The Basketball Tournament has been the Tournament's best team for four straight years, and I’m not sure Overseas Elite can be stopped. They have depth, size, shooting, athleticism, but most importantly, chemistry. It’s actually very simple. From starting guards Kyle Fogg and Errick McCollum, to role players off the bench like Jeremy Pargo and DeAndre Kane, everyone contributes.

 

What Each Team Needs To Do To Make It To The Championship

Eberlein Drive needs to out-rebound Team Fredette, and by a sizable margin. Eberlein gave up 13 offensive rebounds last game against Challenge ALS, and you can’t give up second chance points against Team Fredette. Oh, and you can’t let Jimmer score 40.

Team Fredette is lead by Jimmer, who’s averaging a TBT-high 33 points per game in the tournament - and I honestly think they’ll need that from him again. In the quarterfinals, the Crawford/James duo really stepped up when Jimmer was being double and triple teamed, but can they continue shooting that well from longe range? Jimmer needs 35, and the front court duo of Cooley/Davies needs to stay out of foul trouble.

I explained earlier, but the Golden Eagles are an elite three-point shooting team, and that’s exactly what they’ll need to be against Overseas Elite. Travis Diener and Maurice Acker have to step up again, and Jamil Wilson should play the whole game (he fouled out in the quarterfinals). I think the Marquette alums need 15 3-pointers again, shooting above 50% from long range. Being undersized, they need to stay in the game by boxing out and rebounding. The Golden Eagles have been out-rebounded in every game so far this tournament.

Overseas Elite just needs to play its game. The Golden Eagles will run the floor and shoot three-pointers on almost every other possession - which can speed up the game. OE will need to slow the game down and work an inside-out game.

 

My Prediction

Team Fredette 94 - Eberlein Drive 80; Overseas Elite 75 - Golden Eagles 71

 

 

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