Hilltop Dawgs in 'The Basketball Tournament'

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 23:42:43-04

It’s kind of like getting the band back together.

A band that hit the top of the charts in March.

"It just brings back the old memories," said former UMBC guard Ray Barbosa. "Since we had that big run in the NCAA Tournament, we thought it was a good idea for us to try to play in the TBT."

TBT is short for The Basketball Tournament. It's a 72-team, single-elimination tourney.  Alumni of the UMBC men's basketball program are looking to make another unexpected run like their alma mater did a few months ago in the NCAA Tournament. That's when the Retrievers toppled Virginia to become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed. 

The TBT UMBC Alumni roster boasts recent grads K.J. Maura and Jourdan Grant.

"I didn't know if it was really a real thing at first but I realized: 'Oh yeah, I watched that last summer'," said Grant.

Several others from years past are suiting up too. 

Barbosa was the leading scorer on UMBC’s first NCAA Tournament team in 2008. He's ready for some legit competition.

"There's a lot of pros, a lot of ex-NBA guys, a lot of G-League guys, a lot of overseas guys," he said.

The team is named the Hilltop Dawgs.

It's coached by former UMBC player Brian Hodges. Former Retrievers Head Coach Randy Monroe is an assistant coach for his old player, Hodges.

It's the brainchild of UMBC student and superfan Jeffrey Kee, who also works for the TBT.

"I've been following the team ever since I got here. Just having this team together is like a dream," said Kee.

While the Retrievers were playing for a National Championship back in March, the Hilltop Dawgs will be playing for their bank accounts in a couple weeks. The winner of The Basketball Tournament takes home a grand prize of $2 million.

The Dawgs are the No. 9 seed in the south region of the tournament. Their first game is on July 14 in Richmond when they play No. 8 seed Monarch Nation, alumni of Old Dominion University.

"Just based on upsets alone, we did it once, I don't see why we can't do it again," said Kee.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook