A second team in The Basketball Tournament, the winner-take-all event for $1 million that begins July 4, will not compete because of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, officials for the 24-team event announced that the Jackson TN Underdawgs have been eliminated after a player's positive test. The squad, anchored by former East Tennessee State standout A.J. Merriweather and former Tennessee State standout Josh Sain, will be replaced by D2, a collection of former Division II players.
"We take the health of our participants very seriously," said Jon Mugar, founder and CEO of TBT. "We are more confident than ever in our health and safety plan to reduce risk. The Underdawgs have been a personal and fan favorite for many years and we look forward to welcoming them back in 2021. We wish the team member a speedy recovery in the meantime."
Earlier this month, Best Virginia, a squad led by former West Virginia stars, withdrew after one of its players tested positive. Officials said the team had the option to compete without that player but chose to leave the event.
D2 will now face Big X on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. This year's TBT is at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, and features stars such as former Ohio State standout Aaron Craft (Carmen's Crew) and seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson (Overseas Elite).
The event's health and safety plan includes language that states an entire team can be eliminated if a player tests positive before entering "The Island," a series of facilities the TBT will use for the July 4-14 event. Once in The Island, any positive test will result in automatic elimination for that player's team.
Players will arrive about five days before their first game and enter a required quarantine. They'll take four more tests before they're allowed to play.
There originally were four TBT teams on standby in case a team was eliminated because of COVID-19. Only two remain -- PrimeTime Players and Peoria All-Stars -- as possible replacements.