The Basketball Tournament, back for its fourth year this summer, is down to four teams, with $2 million at stake and the semifinals set for Tuesday at Coppin State in Baltimore.
Scarlet & Gray, a team of former Ohio State players, faces upstart Team Challenge ALS at 7 p.m. ET, followed by two-time defending TBT champion Overseas Elite against Boeheim's Army at 9.
The championship game will be played Thursday night at 7. All games are on ESPN.
Here's a primer on the semifinals and the tournament itself:
What is The Basketball Tournament? Created by Jon Mugar, TBT began in 2014 as a 64-team, 5-on-5 summer event open to anyone age 18 and older -- from professionals to former college stars, playground legends and weekend warriors. Fifteen women played in The Basketball Tournament before this year. Rosters in 2017 included more than 40 former NBA players. It's a single-elimination tournament divided into four 16-team regions, with competition this year in Las Vegas, Peoria, Illinois, Philadelphia and Charlotte. The Super 16 (rounds of 16 and 8) was played July 22 and 23 at LIU Brooklyn. Games feature primarily college rules and 18-minute halves.
What's that about $2 million? Yes, a grand prize of $2 million is awarded to the winning team. The runner-up gets nothing. Ninety percent of the winnings is to be divided among players, coaches, the team general manager (organizer) and official boosters, who provide promotional support. The remaining $200,000 goes to the top 100 fans of the winning team, determined by online voting before and after the start of play. Fans are allowed four votes.
How do the teams qualify? Each 16-team region featured nine teams that got in through fan voting. Tournament organizers selected six at-large teams for each region, with spots awarded first to teams that won regionals last year or played in a previous championship game. A final spot in each region was given to the four play-in winners at The Basketball Tournament Jamboree, June 17 and 18. The Jamboree required a $5,000 buy-in per team, and the winning teams received a refund in addition to their spot in the 64-team field.
How are teams formed? A GM is charged with selecting each team's roster. For instance, former Syracuse team manager Kevin Belbey serves as the GM of Boeheim's Army, made up of former Orange players who competed over a span of 10 seasons. Rosters may include as few as seven players. The first nine spots are free. Each additional player, up to 15, costs an additional $1,000 if the players are named before the start of Round 1. To add a new player before the later rounds costs an additional $1,000.
Is Carmelo Anthony paying attention to all this? Of course. The New York Knicks' star, who spearheaded Syracuse's run to the 2003 NCAA championship, has been tweeting about Boeheim's Army during the tournament. Anthony, in fact, was selected before play began as the ceremonial host of the semifinals and the final in his hometown of Baltimore. Expect to see him in a prominent spot this week -- though likely not on the court in uniform. The Knicks might not appreciate that given his value -- and that they are trying to trade him.
Which teams have already collected the grand prize? The Fighting Alumni won the inaugural TBT, with $500,000 at stake, led by former Notre Dame players Ryan Ayers, Rob Kurz, Russell Carter and Tyrone Nash. Overseas Elite followed with titles in 2015 and 2016 and enters its semifinal on Tuesday with a 17-0 record in the event. Notably, two of the four semifinal participants this year - along with nine of 16 teams that advanced last month to New York -- are alumni teams. Among the other colleges to send teams of former players to the tournament are Iowa State, Michigan State, Villanova, Virginia, Temple, Boston College, Kansas State, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Memphis and Pittsburgh.
So who's playing on Tuesday night?
A TBT mainstay, Boeheim's Army features eight players with professional experience, headlined by guard Eric Devendorf, averaging 18 points, and Donte Green, scoring 17.3 per game. Named after legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, coached by Ryan Blackwell and assembled by Belbey, this team was seeded third in the Northeast region after losing in the Round of 8 last year and the Round of 16 in 2015. Boeheim's Army blew a 20-point lead and required two overtimes to win its first two games, then overcame a 25-point deficit over the final 12 minutes to beat Team FOE in Brooklyn. Center Dashonte Riley, a 7-footer, Scoop Jardine and CJ Fair add familiarity to roster. They're a fan favorite at every stop.
The two-time defending champion and top seed in the South region, Overseas Elite is a juggernaut stocked with international experience. It has never been beaten in TBT play. Guard Kyle Fogg, formerly of Arizona, scored 26 in the Round of 8 win this year and 42 in the semifinals last year. He made the all-tournament team in 2016 along with former St. John's forward D.J. Kennedy. Former Pitt forward DeJuan Blair, Kennedy and DeAndre Kane, who played at Iowa State, all attended Schenley High School in Pittsburgh. Guard Errick McCollum averages 15.5 points this year. His brother, Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, is an Overseas Elite booster.
The second seed in the Midwest, Scarlet & Gray is tearing through the bracket in its first year of play. You'll recognize several former Buckeyes, including a backcourt that consists of David Lighty, William Buford, Jon Diebler and Aaron Craft, the former two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year who has starred in the NBA's D-League. Scarlet & Gray beat the top-seeded Golden Eagles 81-56 in the Round of 8 and has outscored its four foes by an average of 16 points. Forward Jared Sullinger, averaging 14.5 points and nine rebounds, wants use this tournament to help boost his bid to return to the NBA after he was cut by Phoenix last season. Scoonie Penn serves as the GM and coach. Oh, and Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick of Portland, is listed on the roster but has not played in the tournament.
The sentimental favorite in Baltimore, Team Challenge ALS, is seeded sixth in the West and won each of its first four games by double digits; two-time Big West player of the year Casper Ware, formerly of Long Beach State, averaged 15.8 points. Other notables include former Mississippi State guard Dee Bost and ex-Nevada center Kevinn Pinkney. Darren Collison of the Sacramento Kings is the coach, and former Boston College forward Sean Marshall assembled this team to raise money for his old college roommate, former BC baseball player Pete Frates. Frates, diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at age 27, helped inspire the Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral to raise millions in 2014. If Marshall's team wins the title, it will donate $250,000 of its winnings to Frates' medical costs. Count Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan among the boosters of Team Challenge ALS.