Xavier looks to Zip ‘Em Up at The Basketball Tournament

By Luke Servello, Staff Writer
Eight Xavier alumni and one UConn graduate are teaming up as “Zip ‘Em Up” to play in The Basketball Tournament.
Photo courtesy of @ZipEmUpTBT on Twitter

A trip down memory lane awaits Xavier fans. For the first time since the inaugural “The Basketball Tournament” (TBT) in 2014, Xavier will have a team. 

The team will play under the name “Zip ‘Em Up,” which stems from Xavier’s 2010-2011 team motto. The saying went public in a post-game interview with then-Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons. The interview took place after the infamous crosstown shootout with Cincinnati in December 2011. 

“We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. ‘We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here’…We went out there and zipped ‘em up at the end of the game. That’s our motto: zip ‘em up and that’s what we just did to them,” Holloway said. 

Teams in TBT typically consist of alumni who played at the same school, and there will be a total of 64 teams in the tournament. The teams will be divided into four regions with 16 teams per region. The regional host cities are Charleston, W.V.; Wichita, Kan.; Columbus, Ohio; and Peoria, Ill. The quarterfinals and on will take place in Dayton, Ohio. 

Xavier will compete in the Columbus region, which will take place on Ohio State’s campus. Carmen’s Crew, the team of former Buckeyes, are rumored to be the first seed in the region, while the rest of the bracket will be revealed on June 21.. 

Zip ‘Em Up’s roster has the potential to do some serious damage in the tournament. Here is who is slated to play for Zip ‘Em Up and when they played for Xavier: 

  • Jeff Robinson (2009-2010, 2012-2013) 
  • JP Macura (2014-2015, 2017-2018) 
  • Kaiser Gates (2015-2016, 2017-2018) 
  • Kerem Kanter (2017-2018) 
  • Mark Lyons (2009-2010, 2012-2013) 
  • Sean O’Mara (2014-2015, 2017-2018) 
  • Semaj Christon (2012-2014) 
  • Trevon Bluiett (2014-2015, 2017-2018) 

There are also two players on the roster who never played for Xavier: Kayel Locke (UNC Greensboro, 2012–2016) and Sterling Gibbs (Texas, 2011-2012; Seton Hall, 2013-2015; and UConn, 2015-2016).

There is still time to add players, which Xavier will likely pursue because of their relatively small roster. Two players who were standouts at Xavier — who I think Xavier fans would love to see added — are Holloway, who was one of the key players on the original “Zip ‘Em Up” team of 2010-2011, and Tyrique Jones, who graduated from Xavier in 2020. The team will be coached by Xavier’s former assistant coach Rich Carter. 

What will excite Xavier fans the most is watching members of the 2017 and 2018 teams reunite. In particular, fans are anticipating the homecoming of JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett. Both were an integral part of Xavier basketball’s recent success, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2017, a Big East regular season title and an NCAA tournament one seed in 2018. 

TBT kicks off July 16, but games in the Columbus region do not begin until July 23.