Dreams of potentially scoring a $2 million basketball payday will be dancing in the heads of many descending on the Grady Cole Center in early July.
Charlotte will be one of four regional sites for The Basketball Tournament, an open five-on-five, single-elimination 64-team event that's in its third year.
When the dust settles July 9-10, four of the 16 teams that battled it out in Charlotte will have a shot at stringing together four more wins to capture the tournament’s seven-figure prize in August in New York.
“We are extremely high stakes,” said the tournament’s CEO/founder Jon Mugar, a former NCAA Division III player at Tufts in Boston. “It concludes Aug. 2 on ESPN with a game where one team leaves with $2 million and the other team leaves with nothing.
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“So that is extremely unique. We give people the possibility of basically playing in something that is like March Madness. It’s that equivalent.”
The Charlotte region has finalized 15 of its 16 total teams, including the Cat Pack, which is mostly Davidson alumni. Brian Sullivan and Jordan Barnham, who ended their senior seasons in March, are among the former Wildcats, along with Jake Cohen and Tyler Kalinoski, a former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.
Along with the Queen City and Chicago, regionals will also be playe in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The Super 16 is July 21-23 in Philadelphia, and the semifinals will tip off July 30 in New York to set up the $2 million main event.
Given North Carolina’s reputation as a hotbed for basketball, Mugar felt it was a no-brainer to bring his blossoming tournament here.
“We want to go where we feel like we have a chance to tap into a passionate fan base,” Mugar said, “people who would appreciate really high-quality team-oriented, high stakes basketball in the summer.
“We’ve heard good things about Charlotte, just with all of the colleges down there. We feel like it’s a really good city for us to get in front of some basketball fans who really know how to watch basketball.”