Ever since the inception of The Basketball Tournament in 2014, Xavier fans have been clamoring to see their guys come together and kit up to take it on. Now, thanks to the efforts of Zip 'Em Up TBT, we're all going to have the opportunity.
For those who don't know, The Basketball Tournament is a nationwide, single-elimination, winner-take-all competition. A total of 64 teams will play in 4 regions, after which the top 2 from each region will advance to the final set of games in Dayton. At the end of all that, 63 teams will go home sad and broke and one will split $1 million.
Got it? Good. Here's who Xavier - I mean, Team Zip 'Em Up - is taking.
Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura
One of the most successful duos in Xavier basketball history is back. All these two did was combine to win 104 games, win at least 1 NCAA tournament game every year they were in school, and take Xavier to the Sweet 16 twice and the Elite 8 once. JP averaged 10.6/3.2/2.1 in his time at X, a stat line that belies the chaos he could unleash on all corners of the floor in his pomp. Tre was good for 15.9/5.4/2.2 and shot better than 38% from deep in his four years for Xavier.
Since leaving school, JP bounced around the G-League a bit, including a solid stint with the Canton Charge in which he put up 14 and 4 with 2 steals per game. After catching a cup of coffee in the NBA with Charlotte, he took his talents to Turkey this year, where he put up a game line of 13/4/2 with 2 steals per on .473/.371/.817 shooting. Tre has stayed in the G-League with Salt Lake City. He has scuffled a bit this year, but last season he shot .486/.422/.788 on his way to 15.9 PPG.
Commitment 2.— Zip ‘Em Up TBT (@ZipEmUpTBT) May 19, 2021
What would a Xavier alumni team be without a Zip ‘Em Up OG? pic.twitter.com/CjXSN1VRn8
Tu Holloway is rightly hallowed in the annals of Xavier history, but The King of Upstate and his fearless, in-your-face on-court temperament embodied the original Zip 'Em Up era as well as anyone. He went for 12.2/2.9/2.6 in 98 games at Xavier, providing a worthy running mate for Holloway on the way to two Sweet 16 runs in three seasons.
Since matriculating, Lyons has played professional ball in France, Croatia, Israel, Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, and Greece. He has consistently put up good scoring and assist numbers wherever he has gone.
Kerem Kanter only spent a single year with Xavier, but it was a good one. He went for 10.9 and 4.5 and was the most efficient offensive player on a pretty dang efficient team. He also crushed the glass at both ends and surprised the frick out of UC with 17 on 6-8/2-2/3-4 shooting in his only Shootout.
This year he played in Greece's top league and averaged a cool 17 and 7. His shooting line of .523/.365/.755 is in line with what one might expect from his collegiate days, as he remains a threat from all over the floor.
Kaiser Gates and Jeff Robinson
In my opinion, Kaiser Gates is one of the most underappreciated players in recent Xavier history. His low raw numbers masked an almost comical efficiency; as a junior, he had an ORtg of 122.4, allowing him to post 7.2 PPG despite a usage rate of 13%. He was never fully fit as a Muskie, but that didn't keep him from being a destructive and versatile defender.
Speaking of underappreciated, Jeff Robinson certainly fits the bill. He always looked like he was on the verge of a breakout that never quite appeared. He posted a solid 6.8 and 4.8 as a senior and had games - like when he dropped 22 on La Salle as a sophomore or 17 on Butler as a senior - in which he looked unstoppable.
Kaiser has been in the G-League since he left Xavier a year early, showing his chops as a specialist from deep by sticking about 35% of his three-point attempts over three years while averaging about 12 PPG. He has also punched him some nasty dunks that show how much life is in his legs when they're healthy.
I don't have any stats for JRob since he left Xavier, which seems fitting in a weird way. This isn't a group of buddies meeting up at the Y for some run on the weekend though. There's a million bucks at stake, and these guys didn't invite Jeff because they missed him.
Coach Rick Carter
Rick Carter was an NCAA D1 assistant coach for 15 years, most pertinently for 2 years on Xavier's bench under Chris Mack. Carter departed Xavier for DePaul, where his time ended acrimoniously, to say the least.
Team Zip'Em Up didn't bring on Carter for his ability to go within 2,500 feet of the athletic department offices at DePaul though. Carter is a driven coach who knows his way around basketball, and he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder that fits the personality of the Zip 'Em Up era Musketeer teams.
The Basketball Tournament runs from July 16 through August 3 this year. Xavier figures to compete in the Columbus Region at the Covelli Center in Columbus, OH. Tickets are on sale now, and we'll keep you posted as team news continues to break, as well as providing coverage of the event itself.