The Men of Mackey is a Purdue alumni team who is playing in TBT for the second time. Last year, Men of Mackey advanced to the round of 32 in the 64-team tournament.
The TBT matchup pits two schools who have met frequently on the hardwood in recent years. Tennessee defeated Purdue in the 2017-18 season, an early season win that helped spark Rick Barnes’ program’s resurgent season. In 2018, Purdue eliminated Tennessee in the Sweet 16 in overtime.
In 2019, Tennessee and Purdue were in the same early season tournament— though they didn’t play. The Vols and Boilermakers are both in the four-team Hall of Fame Tip Off this season with Tennessee playing Villanova in the first game and Purdue playing North Carolina.
“They know what they’re doing when they schedule it, I know that,” Ballinteers head coach Ron Slay said with a laugh.
Like the Ballinteers, the Men of Mackey isn’t fully composed of Purdue alums. Four of the Men of Mackey’s 11 players attended other schools.
Looking at the eight-seed Boilermaker alumni team, Slay sees a team with strong big men who thrive in a halfcourt game.
“Looking at Purdue, they’re big,” Slay said. “Rebounding should be a challenge but we have some athletic bigs— Wayne Chism, Duke Crews, John Fields— that can really get out and get going. I don’t think they can keep up with us in terms of our big running the floor. I think they’ll have to go to a smaller lineup and if they do we have our bigs that are mobile and can switch off.”
A.J. Hammons— a 7-foot center who averaged 15 points and eight rebounds for Purdue in 2016, Robbie Hummel— a three time All-Big Ten power forward, and 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas— a center who averaged 14 points for Purdue’s 2018 Elite Eight team— lead Men of Mackey’s front court.
The Ballinteers front court of Duke Crews, Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism and John Fields all stand under 6-foot-10 and have to play big while running the floor against the Men of Mackey.
Despite Slay’s confidence, the former SEC Player of the Year knows the Men of Mackey will be a challenge for the ninth-seeded Ballinteers.
“They have guys too,” Slay said. “Robbie Hummell, let’s get him in foul trouble because he’s like a swiss army knife. We’re going to play our game and make them adjust to us. … The one thing we have to do with them is rebound. We have to rebound cause they’re a big team.”
TBT’s rules are different from NBA or college basketball in a few minor ways and then in a major way with the Elam Ending. Learn everything you need to know about the TBT and the Ballinteers as a whole ahead of Friday night’s game.
The Ballinteers and Men of Mackey will tip-off at 7 p.m. ET Friday night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. With a win, the Ballinteers will play in the round of 32 on Sunday.