CHICAGO – Winner takes all at Wintrust Arena Tuesday night.
The final two teams in The Basketball Tournament have one shot at two million dollars.
A pair of alumni squads survived the field of 64. Former Marquette point guard Travis Diener led The Golden Eagles to the Championship game, where they will face David Lighty, Aaron Craft and a number of other Ohio State standouts.
TBT has grown into a summer staple in the basketball world, but not everyone was sure what they were getting into when it started six years ago.
“I thought it was a hoax at first,” explained Golden Eagles head coach Joe Chapman. “Why would we come and do this? Then, I played in it three straight years before I started coaching in it. It started to get better and better and better each year as far as the fans, more alumni teams, more sponsors, people getting behind it. You got that feeling in your mind that this is becoming bigger.”
“I think more guys are intrigued and more guys want to take a shot at it,” noted Craft. “It’s six games. This year, they made it two weekends. It’s not a huge time commitment. If you think you can do it, you do it. It’s a lot of fun.”
“The NBA guys – the best players in the world – they know how good these guys are,” remarked ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla. “The tournament wouldn’t work if the level of play wasn’t so high. We actually have teams making five, six jump shots in a row, which never happens in college. These guys are no longer in Psychology 101 at DePaul and Marquette and Ohio State. They are professional players even though some of our basketball fans who watch on TV have forgotten about them. But, when you watch Aaron Craft play, he’s the same Aaron Craft that was at Ohio State, he’s just better.”
Tip off for the TBT title is Tuesday night at 8:00 pm CST.