This year's edition of The Basketball Tournament, a $2 million winner-take-all event that will air on ESPN's family of networks this summer, will feature four Big East alumni teams sponsored by the conference.
Alumni teams from Marquette, St. John's, Georgetown and Seton Hall will play their preliminary tournament games at Marquette's Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee on June 30 and July 1.
This year's tournament will have 72 teams. The winner of the Big East pod will advance to the Super 16.
Khadeen Carrington, an all-Big East second-teamer last season who averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game, and teammate Desi Rodriguez (17.5 PPG) will lead Hall In, Seton Hall's alumni team. Jamil Wilson, who averaged 7.0 points in 15 games for the LA Clippers last year, and Travis Diener, an NBA veteran who recently left a coaching position to play overseas, will anchor Marquette's Golden Eagles. Phil Greene IV will try to help The Johnnies (St. John's) win big. And Georgetown's Jack Attack squad will turn to former standouts Hollis Thompson, Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark.
"It's a real, genuine basketball event," said Jon Mugar, founder of TBT. "A lot of coaches and teams want to continue supporting these student-athletes after they leave. The Big East really loved the idea."
Mugar said he'd like to create partnerships with other conferences in the future. "Why can't we have conference tournaments the same way the NCAA has them?" he said. "It makes so much sense."
What started as an event on ESPN3.com with a $500,000 pot for the winning team has blossomed into a nationally televised tournament that features elite talent competing for a seven-figure sum. Sixteen players who participated in last year's TBT signed NBA contracts, per Mugar.
Overseas Elite, a team composed of players who've excelled in international leagues, has won the past three tournaments and $5 million. In all, 68 former NBA players and hundreds of current pros from other leagues played in TBT last year.
Mugar said the growth of TBT is attributable to both the desire of fans to support former stars and interest from players seeking the exposure that comes with participation in the event.
"The key is definitely that fan bases still rabidly care about players in the TBT," Mugar said.