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$1 Million Basketball Tourney: Summer of '15

BOSTON, March 2, 2015 -- (By Terry Lyons, Editor-in-Chief, DigitalSportsDesk - @DigSportsDesk) -- The American Dream is alive, well and coming to a basketball court near you this summer. A “winner-take-all” basketball tournament with a $500,000 grand prize in 2014 has raised the stakes to a cool $1 million for the summer of 2015, and some 96 teams consisting of former pros, recent collegians, playground legends or just about anyone else you can imagine will vie for the cool million prize before an ESPN nationwide audience.

In 2014, a team of Notre Dame Alumni won TBT I

Coined by the ever-simple and original name of “The Basketball Tournament,” the single-elimination, winner-take-all, open-application tournament launched in 2014, and recently announced they'd be back for another year in a bigger and better fashion, including a solid television deal with ESPN, a nationally-based lead-up with regional qualifying events (think NCAA style) and a bigger field, expanded to 96 teams. Opening rounds will begin July 10-12 at the regional sites in Los Angeles and Atlanta, then continue July 17-19 in Chicago and Philadelphia.

The Basketball Tournament will continue on Thursday, July 23, when defending champion Notre Dame Fighting Alumni meet the lower seeded Chicago entrant in the opening game of the Super 17 live from Chicago, scheduled to be televised on ESPNU. Play continues the following day, Friday, July 24, from Chicago, with the Round of 16, only available via online, live-streaming. ESPNU will be back on-air for the Quarterfinal games on Saturday July 25.

The winners from Chicago will travel to New York City for the semifinals on Saturday, August 1, carried live on ESPN at a venue to be determined, but New Yorkers in the know are thinking Fordham's Rose Hill gym or Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John's University. The next day, Sunday, August 2, the two finalists will play in the winner-take-all, $1 Million Championship Game, at 3pm ET on ESPN. In 2015, some 96 teams including the defending champion, Notre Dame Fighting Alumni, will play for a grand prize.

“On August 2nd, two teams will play a winner-take-all game of basketball for $1 million on national television for the first time, and the door is wide open for anyone to create a team and play for it,” said Jonathan Mugar, Founder of The Basketball Tournament. “Last year, we were able to prove the concept of a high-stakes tournament, with an exceptionally skilled collection of players and an entertaining event. Our agreement with ESPN, along with our market expansion, further validates that we are on the track to grow this event for year two.”

Entry into The Basketball Tournament is free, with an application period that will open April 1st and run through June 1. For qualification, teams must recruit votes via TheTournament.com. To be considered for entry, teams must designate their General Manager and name at least seven players, then head to the polls to attract at least 100 votes. GMs will create team profiles on TheTournament.com to campaign for votes to get an automatic bid to the tournament by the June 1st application deadline. All player-applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

Fans who have registered on TheTournament.com will vote for their favorite teams, and 18 teams per region will be selected solely based on how many fan votes they are able to recruit online. TBT will invite six additional teams to play in each region based on creativity and talent. Additionally, for the first time anywhere, the winning team’s fan group will share 5% ($50,000) of the overall prize.

Philadelphia University and Boston University played host to the first tournament in June of 2014.In the championship game, the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni (led by former All BIG EAST players Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, Russell Carter) defeated tournament favorite Team Barstool (led by Ross Burns, Dave Portnoy, Dan Katz and several players with NBA experience, including Los Angeles Clippers guard Dahntay Jones), 72-68, to win the event and the $500,000. The Notre Dame Fighting Alumni will be back to defend their title in 2015.

The tournament was conceived by CEO Jonathan Mugar as the ultimate opportunity for fans, athletes and social media mavens to create teams and then participate in a high-stakes, professionally organized sporting event, In its first year, The Basketball Tournament drew over 100 team entries and 32 teams ultimately made the field. Participants ranged from professional players and recent college talent to local legends and pickup basketball stars. After a moderately successful debut in its launch year, the event is doubling in size in 2015. To assist in the marketing and sales aspects, the Basketball Tournament engaged sports industry veterans Tony Ponturo of Ponturo Management Group, Andy Dolich of Dolich Consulting, and Len DeLuca of Len DeLuca & Associates of New York. 

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