Team Arkansas and Fort Worth Funk meet Friday in TBT basketball action at the Charles Koch Arena.
Team Arkansas will be coached by Monty Patel, who is the assistant coach at Jacksonville High School and has helped produce some of the top high school players in the state. Team Arkansas will be led by Courtney Fortson, Jaylen Barford and Dusty Hannahs, some of the best players to suit up for Arkansas and were all big time scorers during their time with the Razorbacks. Kavion Pippen is also on the roster, a guy who averaged 12.4 points on 55.5 percent shooting in two seasons with Southern Illinois. Guard C.J. Jones spent a couple years at Arkansas before transferring to Middle Tennessee and averaging 16.2 points and 2.8 rebounds, becoming one of the top players in the CUSA in the 2019-20 season. As a sixth seed, Team Arkansas should not be overlooked.
Fort Worth Funk is a first time participant that will be coached by Lee Nailon, who played 306 NBA games, was a two-time first team All-WAC selection and the Israeli League MVP in 2007. As for the roster itself, you may recognize Alex Robinson and J.D. Miller, who were both key players for TCU a couple of years ago and led the Horned Frogs to the NIT Championship Game. Brandon Parrish is a capable shooter from the outside and Braylon Rayson was an absolute baller in four years at Central Michigan. Bingo Merriex had three seasons where he averaged double-digit points at TCU. Jalen Henry is also a player to watch, as he improved greatly in four years at SIU-Edwardsville and has double-double potential with his size. For a team making its debut in the tournament, you can do a lot worse than the roster Fort Worth Funk is rolling out.
Fort Worth Funk won’t be a pushover, but I’m afraid they lack the depth of Team Arkansas and will fold down the stretch. Team Arkansas has many players it can turn to for offense and also has an experience edge having already played in this tournament and format. It should be a good game to open up the tournament, but Team Arkansas should get the nod here.
I like Team Arkansas to advance, but I will be intrigued with a potential line.