On Wednesday, Columbus will learn which teams it will host when The Basketball Tournament comes to town this summer.
As participants were being finalized and voting was ongoing, TBT creator and CEO Jon Mugar told The Dispatch last week to expect a stellar field of teams.
“It can change, because a lot of it depends on how many supporters teams have … (but) I honestly think top to bottom, looking at my projected seeds for the region, it’s going to be the best region in five years,” he said in a phone interview. “I can say that in all confidence.”
The 72-team, single-elimination tournament with a winner-take-all $2 million prize will feature a team of Ohio State alumni aiming to avenge last year’s loss in the final four. Scarlet & Gray, coached by Scoonie Penn and featuring players such as Jon Diebler, William Buford, Aaron Craft and David Lighty, will be in the Midwest region and play at Capital University from July 20-22.
Other teams likely to be part of the region include Team Fredette, put together by Jimmer Fredette, alumni teams from Cincinnati, Pitt and Bradley and a “Big X” team founded by former Ohio State player Andrew Dakich and featuring teammates Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams alongside players from other Big Ten schools including Michigan.
“This Andrew Dakich team kind of happened,” Mugar said. “We didn’t foresee that, but that’s another team with a local angle. Then we got word of a Cincinnati alumni team being interested, so there was a lot of stars aligning to put it in Columbus. I think the fans are going to show up and really love the product.”
The field for the fifth year of the tournament will be announced Wednesday. Teams primarily earn their entry through a fan-support system built around voting.
“If these teams get in, it’s going to be an unbelievable pod,” Mugar said.