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Carmen’s Crew vs. Golden Eagles: The Basketball Tournament’s $2 million champ will be determined at Wintrust Arena

Ohio State alumni remain focused as they prepare to face Marquette alums in the TBT title game.

The Golden Eagles rejoice after Travis Diener (second from right) made a three-pointer to send them to the title game of The Basketball Tournament. 
The Golden Eagles rejoice after Travis Diener (second from right) made a three-pointer to send them to the title game of The Basketball Tournament. 
Bob Milkovich/For TBT

For the first time since 2014, Overseas Elite won’t be The Basketball Tournament’s champion.

A new champ will be crowned Tuesday at Wintrust Arena thanks to Carmen’s Crew, a team made up mostly of Ohio State alumni, which defeated the four-time defending champions 68-62 in the semifinals Sunday.

‘‘We just knew that in order to try to be a champion, you’ve gotta take out a champion,’’ Carmen’s Crew coach Jared Sullinger said in a phone interview with the Sun-Times. ‘‘It was a great game, but we can’t have no hangovers going into this championship game.’’

David Lighty scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the second half to send Carmen’s Crew to the title game.

Sullinger said Carmen’s Crew are motivated to finish the job.

‘‘If you can’t focus on $2 million, then I don’t know what the hell you gonna focus on, honestly,’’ Sullinger said. ‘‘We’re at that age when we have a family to feed and take care of our loved ones. So if $2 million don’t motivate you, I don’t know why the hell you playing this game.’’

Standing in the way are the Golden Eagles, a team of former Marquette players. It’ll mark the first time two college alumni teams will face off in TBT’s $2 million championship game. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN and the ESPN app.

The last time the teams faced each other was in the Midwest Regional final in 2017. Carmen’s Crew, known as Scarlet and Gray at the time, won 81-56.

Carmen’s Crew makes their championship-game debut in the first season after changing their name. They lost to Team Challenge ALS in the semifinals in 2017 and fell to Team Fredette in the Midwest Regional final last year.

Sullinger is coaching the team after playing the last two years. He said getting involved with TBT in 2017 as a player helped him show that he still could play basketball and that he was healthy after being cut by the Suns in February 2017.

The Golden Eagles clinched their spot in the championship game after Travis Diener knocked down the winning three-pointer to defeat Team Hines 68-62 in the other semifinal Sunday.

‘‘Travis is a veteran on the team,’’ Golden Eagles coach Joe Chapman said. ‘‘He’s going to take and make big shots. That’s what he does.’’

The Golden Eagles lost to Overseas Elite in the semifinals last year and were defeated by Always a Brave in the Midwest Regional final in 2016. Chapman said the team’s veteran leadership and increased poised helped it get to its first championship game.

‘‘Once you get as far as we did last year, you understand what it takes to get and play for this,’’ Chapman said.