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TBT preview: Zip ‘Em Up v. Blue Collar U

The Xavier alumni (and friends!) are back in action tonight against a Buffalo team that dragged itself across the line against The Nerd Team last night.

Buffalo v Miami Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Not a lot of KenPom data available on this one.

Blue Collar U played in the game before Xavier last night, outlasting The Nerd Team 88-82. Wes Clark led the way with 23, including the Elam Ender, but BCU had four players in double figures including Lamonte Bearden (16), Blake Hamilton (14), and Edric Dennis, Jr. Blue Collar U got beaten 38-30 on the glass (sorry, I don’t have rebounding percentages available) and 34-26 on points in the paint, but they forced 23 turnovers and scored 15 points in transition.

Clark is the danger man for Blue Collar U. He’s a 6’ guard who played at Missouri and Buffalo and currently plies his trade overseas, mostly in Italy and Germany. Lamonte Bearden is his 6’3” backcourt counterpart, late of Buffalo and Western Kentucky. He dropped 18/4/5 in his professional debut season in Turkey’s second tier last season.

Blake Hamilton is a 6’6” wing who plays in Greece right now. I mean, right now he plays in Columbus, but his last professional game was played in Greece, where he has averaged just over 7 PPG and 4 RPG in his last two seasons. I was surprised to see Edric Dennis, Jr. posting big numbers, as last I saw him he was having a forgettable season at TCU. He’s a 6’3” guard who shot 33.6% from deep as a Horned Frog.

Someone we didn’t see a lot of in the box score was 6’3” guard CJ Massinburg. He only went for 5/5/2, but he is capable of scoring in bunches. He averaged double figures in each of his 4 years at Buffalo, and he just dropped 11/5/2 on .477/.467/.964 shooting for the Long Island Nets. He’s a potential danger man despite his quiet game last night.

A couple of areas jump out for Zip ‘Em Up to take advantage here. The first is the paint. Blue Collar U was beaten on the glass and in paint scoring last night, and Zip ‘Em Up has some potentially dominant post presences. Sean O’Mara can be a difference maker in this game, and keep an eye out for another big night from the surprisingly spry Jeff Robinson.

The other is execution. The Nerd Team fell in part because they couldn’t stop turning the ball over. Zip ‘Em Up has one of the best levels of team cohesion I’ve seen at TBT; that familiarity should help them keep the ball in the right hands. Blue Collar U had a total of 10 assists last night; Zip ‘Em Up had 25. If the crew out of (mostly) Xavier keeps the ball moving and presses its advantage in the paint, we’ll see them moving on to have a chance to play for a ticket to Dayton on Tuesday.