What's one way to draw more interest in your event? Throw up a $1 million prize.
According to ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman, the organizers of The Basketball Tournament upped the amount paid to the winning team from $500,000 to a cool seven figures. In addition, the number of teams involved increased from 32 teams to 97.
"To grow from 32 teams in 2014 to 97 teams in 2015 serves as a testament to the open tournament model," said Jon Mugar, The Basketball Tournament's CEO. "There are an extraordinary amount of sports fanatics that want to step into the role of team owner or GM, build their own franchises from scratch, and compete in an event that pays off with live game coverage on ESPN."
The fact that the TBT was able to double its spoils is a testament to how it has grown already in the space of a year.
Goodman noted that former NBA veterans such as Nate Robinson and Hakim Warrick will be taking part, in addition to guys like Royce White, Ben Hansbrough and Christian Watford, who made their names at the collegiate level.
Hansbrough's Notre Dame Fighting Alumni are the defending champions. Tory Jackson, Tim Abromaitis, Ryan Ayers and Tyrone Nash are among the other former Notre Dame players on the team.
Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy added that NBA stars such as Ty Lawson, Nick Young and Jamal Crawford are also involved in the event in a more behind-the-scenes aspect since the tournament prohibits current players from actually playing.
A big part of what makes The Basketball Tournament so much fun is that almost anybody can take part. It's too late for you to enter now, but you could hypothetically put a team together and compete against guys who have performed at the highest level.
The tournament's rules stipulate that participants be at least 18 years old and be willing to waive their amateur status. That's it.
Of course, simply creating a team doesn't guarantee that you'll actually make it to the knockout tournament.
In order to qualify for this year's field, teams had to build fan interest. Boosters and general managers were responsible for trying to garner enough votes to earn a bid.
Former Ole Miss Rebels guard Marshall Henderson, who serves as player and general manager for his team, took to Twitter in order to promote his team:
The Basketball Tournament will begin in four regional cities, with games scheduled for July 10-12 and July 17-19. From there, 17 teams advance to the "Super 17," where the field will eventually dwindle to four. ESPN will air both the semifinals and championship games, which take place in New York on August 1 and 2.
Since the NBA Finals will be over in the middle of June at the latest, The Basketball Tournament will be a fun way for fans to get their basketball fix later this summer. Plus, it's always enjoyable to catch up with some of the more fringe names you might have forgotten about a few years ago.