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What’s working and what isn’t in the 3X3U Tournament

A new three-on-three tournament was chock-full of upsets in the first day but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvements.

NCAA Basketball: Pepperdine at St. Mary's Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Though one minute in a college basketball can take 18 minutes, games in the 3X3U tournament go much quicker, and because of that, they are very, very fun.

For those of you who are just tuning in, the 3X3U Tournament features the best seniors in college basketball. Each college basketball conference from the ASUN to the ACC sent four of their best seniors to San Antonio for this epic three-day tournament. We get to see our favorite mid-major phenoms like Junior Robinson finally get a shot against the Power 5 elite. The best part of the tournament is the prize. The tournament is churning out an $100,000 pot with wins earning $1,000 each and $50,000 for the championship.

Here’s my take on what’s going well and what isn’t after the first two days of the tournament.

What I like

The SWAC and The MEAC

The tournament kicked off with the SWAC beating the Big 12. Though this might not seem like much, let’s be clear. Three of the four players averaged over 15 points per game, and the third played in the Elite Eight. So when the Big 12 sends a solid group of seniors, it should not lose to a conference where only one team had a record over .500. But that’s what happened and that was awesome. Same goes for the MEAC, whose dudes knocked off the uber-competitive ACC. Hats off to all the SWAC and MEAC’s representatives who finally get a chance to make a name for themselves on a national stage.

Securing the Bag

Let’s start by stating the obvious: college athletes should be paid. They work their tails off, prioritize athletics over all and make so much money for their schools without benefiting in the slightest. Because they still aren’t able to make bank, there’s nothing more rewarding than watching Junior Robinson make it rain, or get the chance to earn cash for the first time as a professional basketball player. Though most players won’t end the tournament with more than a thousand dollars, even earning a small sum is a nice step in the right direction.


No replays, timeouts or commercials is a recipe for basketball at its finest. All this action in the tourney is going down in an easy-to-follow, pick-up style format. Games are played first to 21 or whoever’s winning after 10 minutes of play. The shot clock is just 12 seconds, shots behind the arc are worth two points, while those within are worth one. Players sub in and out as they please and checking the ball isn’t required after a made bucket. There’s no way to get bored.

Power Teams

Every college basketball fan imagines what would happen if trades existed. If only I could put Vermont’s Trae Bell-Haynes on the same team as UMass-Lowell’s, Jahad Thomas, for example, they could to upset anyone. Finally, we get to see this become a reality, and it lets us dream for a little.

Post-game interviews

One Shining Podcast’s Mike Titus and Tate Frazier succeeded not only as the tourney’s “bag men” but also as the interview men as well. They went out-of-the-box with their questions and finally we got some of our favorite players like Rokas Gustys to speak their mind away from the watchdog that is the NCAA.

What I didn’t like

Pool Format

The tournament’s first two days are divided by pools, with four conferences/teams in each pool. It’s a World Cup style where the best team after four games moves on. However, for me, once I saw the SWAC upset the Big 12, I wanted to see them in the quarterfinals. A better format would be NCAA Tournament style with sudden-death elimination and the conferences ranked one to 32.

Selection Process

Let the people choose who are in the tournament! No disrespect to the committee, but wouldn’t the fans be more interested if they got to choose who competes? It’s one thing for players to elect not to play in the tournament, but seriously, no UMBC player for the American East?

Broadcasting Crew

Don’t get me wrong, Robbie Hummel is a really likable dude. But I just got bored. For the broadcasters, we should get some of the spiciest current and former college basketball players to drop some hot takes. Well, the ones who aren’t in the NBA season at least.

Point System

I love that threes are taken more than any other shot because I love to see guys light it up from deep, but how about making dunks worth two points as well? There’s nothing that spreads across America quicker than a good dunk, so really I’m just doing the marketing squad a favor with this idea. You’re welcome.

Size of the Bag

Don’t get me wrong, the $100,000 prize is great for the first year, but maybe going forward we can toss the players a little more. Stepping up the money prize will actually incentivize players from Power 5 conferences to care. Instead of painting this as their last college basketball hoorah, let’s get some drama going so everyone is really giving their all. I’m thinking upping the total pool money to $250,000 and $100,000 for the championship game would be ideal.

Currently taking offers to become the first-ever 3X3U bag woman for 2019. Will work for free if I can toss bags to Clayton Custer, Caleb Martin or Chris Clemons.