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What is TBT?

Xavier alumni have made a stir this summer by reuniting to play in The Basketball Tournament but what, exactly, is that?

Xavier v Georgia State
Dee Davis is the GM of Zip Em Up
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

July is not generally a prime time for basketball. The NBA finals land around this time this year, but that’s not usually the norm. College basketball especially is in the doldrums this time of year. Practices and open gyms are getting started again, but there really isn’t much happening there. Some recruiting news comes out, but those are players who might matter in the future. It’s baseball, heat, the Olympics, the Tour de France, and the long wait until the baseball playoffs and those delicious first games in November that herald the start of a new season.

So why is Xavier twitter abuzz right now? Because of The Basketball Tournament (TBT). Xavier alumni and a handful of friends are taking on the tournament for their shot at making some serious money. The team, Zip Em Up, will start play near the end of July in a single elimination, winner take all tournament. If you aren’t familiar with the Tournament and have no idea what an Elam Ending is, here’s a quick primer on the tournament that will see Dee Davis, JP Macura, and Trevon Bluiett reuinted in Xavier colors.

First off, the rules in TBT are not exactly what you are expecting. To crib directly from Wikipedia, always a reliable source, these are the differences from NCAA rules:

  • Games are played in 9-minute quarters instead of 20-minute halves (or the 10-minute quarters of the NCAA women’s game).
  • Players foul out upon their 6th personal foul (instead of 5th).
  • Bonus free throws follow NCAA women’s and FIBA rules, with two free throws on the 5th and subsequent non-shooting fouls by the defense in a quarter. An exception to this rule will be added for the 2020 tournament; any foul during the Elam Ending (see below) that would result in bonus free throws will instead give the non-fouling team one free throw and possession of the ball.
  • FIBA rules on basket interference are followed, except on free throws. Once the ball hits the rim on a field goal attempt, any player on either team can play the ball, regardless of the direction in which it is moving or its position relative to the basket. The only exception is that no player on either team may touch a shot that was in the air at the time the game clock expired for any quarter, even if the ball has touched the rim, as long as it has a chance to enter the basket.
  • Replay review is governed by NCAA rules, with one modification—any review allowed only in the last 2 minutes of a game under NCAA rules is allowed in TBT only if either team is within 3 points of the Elam Ending target score.
  • Due to the adoption of the Elam Ending for all games, there is no overtime.

So what is this Elam Ending? It was designed to prevent the drudgery of the constant fouling that comes at the end of close games. At the first whistle after the four minute mark to go in the game, the clock is turned off. The teams then play to a target score of eight points more than the leading team currently has. Obviously if the game is tied it becomes a contest of first to eight. This ending guarantees that the game will end on a made bucket.

The main conceit of the tournament is that anyone can apply to play for the $1 million grand prize. Obviously, when you put that much money on the line, it’s not going to be you and the local YMCA hoopers that get in. The teams competing now are alums from major programs, overseas players, NBA washouts, and G league players. While the tournament has had up to 97 participants before, it is now capped at 64. (64 being the perfect number for a basketball event.)

This is Xavier’s first foray into TBT with a team comprised most of alumni. The games will be broadcast on ESPN affiliates and take place in four regionals with Championship Week taking place in Dayton. We will be covering the tournament, a 64 team NCAA style event, just like we would a normal Xavier tournament run. The Zip Em Up squad tips off on July 24th against Ohio U. Jason Carter’s loyalties may be divided, but ours won’t be.