Defending champs Blue Collar U top ’23 TBT field

Defending champions Blue Collar U and alumni teams from Kansas and Louisville headline the 2023 field for The Basketball Tournament.

The 64-team TBT bracket, which was released Wednesday, features 34 college alumni teams and three former tournament champions.

This year’s TBT will feature eight regionals in seven cities, with Wichita’s Koch Arena hosting two regionals — one hosted by Wichita State and one hosted by Kansas. Koch Arena holds the TBT attendance record. The other cities set to host regionals are Lubbock, Texas; Cincinnati; Syracuse, New York; Wheeling, West Virginia; Dayton, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky.

The teams will compete for the $1 million, winner-take-all championship prize. The semifinals and championship game will be held at Daskalakis Athletic Center, better known as the DAC, Drexel’s home arena, in Philadelphia.

Blue Collar U, a team of Buffalo alumni, is back to defend its title. They have been in two TBTs, reaching the semifinals two years ago and winning it all last summer. Nick Perkins, CJ Massinburg and Wes Clark — the three stars from last year’s title game — once again lead the way.

The 2-seed in their region is another former champion, with Boeheim’s Army playing at home. It’s a refreshed roster, with the likes of Tyus Battle, Chris McCullough and Jimmy Boeheim on the squad. Boeheim’s Army won the TBT title in 2021 but suffered an early upset last summer.

The third former tournament champion is Carmen’s Crew, a team of Ohio State alumni that won the title in 2019. They are the 4-seed in the Dayton region and will be coached by Jared Sullinger.

One of the pre-tournament favorites is Mass Street, a team of Kansas alumni that hasn’t been in TBT since 2019. Coaches Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris have a loaded team from which to choose, with former Jayhawks Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Garrett and Dedric Lawson among the standouts.

The Ville is making its TBT debut with multiple players from Louisville’s 2013 national championship team. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva will make up one of the more dynamic backcourts in the field.

Other alumni teams to watch include Aftershocks (Wichita State), Air Raiders (Texas Tech), Zip Em Up (Xavier), Best Virginia (West Virginia) and Red Scare (Dayton). Four of those teams earned 1-seeds in their respective regions, while Zip Em Up is a 2-seed. Blue Collar U, Mass Street, Program for Autism (last year’s runner-up) and Gutter Cats are the other top-seeded teams.

The TBT began in 2014, when Notre Dame Fighting Alumni won the first championship. Overseas Elite won the next four titles before their streak ended in 2019 at the hands of Carmen’s Crew. Marquette-centric Golden Eagles Alumni won in 2020, Boeheim’s Army took the title in 2021, and Blue Collar U won it all last summer.

All 63 games will air on the ESPN family of networks, with action starting July 19. The championship game will take place Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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