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What is House of ‘Paign?

Welcome to The Tournament.

Twitter: @IlliniTBT

Did you love the 2010s of Illinois Men’s Basketball?

Probably not, to be completely honest. But, we have something you will love this summer: House of ‘Paign.

Essentially, the best non-NBA players of the past decade of Illinois Basketball are teaming up to play in a single-elimination tournament (hopefully) this summer with a $2 million prize on the line. All the games are broadcast on national television, and they’ll be sporting Orange and Blue.

That’s right — it’s The Basketball Tournament.

The name explains it all. TBT was founded in 2014, and it’s really taken off since.

So is this legit basketball?

Not too many changes in this version of basketball. The Elam Ending, which was used magnificently in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, was founded in this tournament. Games are nine-minute quarters, and players receive six personal fouls.

Oh, and the replay reviews are governed by NCAA rules, so that means there’s an Illinois Rule!

But, like, who’s playing in this?

Tons of teams! The Tournament has had as many as 97 teams before, but now the field is down to 64.

Tons of current and former NBA players have participated, including Mike Bibby and Brian Scalabrine. And there’s been college alumni teams from all over the place, like Bradley, Ohio State, Texas Tech and Notre Dame. It’s a legit field of real teams put together by general managers.

Sadly, Illinois has never participated in The Tournament — until now.

Welcome to the House of ‘Paign.

Former Illini Mike LaTulip is the Illini’s GM, putting together the team over the early part of 2020 ahead of this summer’s scheduled tournament (pending the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions).

We talked with LaTulip on a recent episode of Oskee Talk, and he explained his process of putting together the squad.

Highlighting the Illini’s team so far are some fairly big names, led by Malcolm Hill, Leron Black and Andres Feliz. But there’s also Nnanna Egwu, Rayvonte Rice and Michael Finke. And the team isn’t even all put together.

Sadly, most of these guys never got to play in a NCAA Tournament at Illinois, but they’re all still bleeding Orange and Blue, and they’ll be teaming up for the first time this summer. This team, which again isn’t finished being built, could legitimately win the whole thing.

So what’s next?

House of ‘Paign is currently slated to be in the Columbus Regional, which kicks off July 23. Defending champion Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State’s alumni team) will likely be there.

Win that regional and ‘Paign advances to Dayton for the Elite Eight (that’s what we’re going to call it). The whole tournament is slated to end by Aug. 11. Hopefully it stays that way. There’s been no plans to move things around just yet.

Until then, here at TCR we need content. So why not relive some of the best basketball payers of recent days, talk to them, write about them, and write about why this team will win the damn thing. So we have a lot of fun content coming, because, hey, we didn’t get a NCAA Tournament, might as well live this one up.

Just don’t cancel it, please.