Cincinnati and Xavier: A rivalry that’s closer than ever

The crosstown shootout is one of the most anticipated games in Cincinnati

The crosstown shootout is one of the most anticipated games in Cincinnati

With everyone always talking about the most popular rivalries in college hoops (Duke-UNC, Kansas-Kansas State etc.) the one rivalry that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves is the local rivalry between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers, known as the Crosstown Classic (formerly the Crosstown Shootout).

With the 64-47 win by Xavier on December 14th, the all-time series record goes to 45-27 in favor of the Bearcats.

While the numbers appear lopsided, this is due to the fact that the Bearcats won all but two games over the Muskies from 1957-1979, in a time period where they made nine tournament appearances and back-to-back national championships from ’61 to ’62. The Musketeers, on the other hand, only made one tournament appearance during this time period and were eliminated in the first round.

But it seems as though the Musketeers could be mounting a comeback. They’ve won 12 of the last 18 games played and are a much more respected and legitimate team than they used to be, but they still have a lot of catching up to do in the near future.

The rivalry first started all the way back in the 1927 basketball season, when Xavier and Cincinnati played a game to break in Xavier’s brand new basketball arena, the Schmidt Field House, resulting in a 29-25 Muskies win, and the two schools didn’t meet again for another 15 years, when Xavier won 51-37 in 1942. The schools took a couple years off and played again in 1945, this time with UC winning 53-39. From that point on the schools played an annual basketball game every year, and the Crosstown Shootout was born.

The rivalry has had many highs and lows.

The schools combined for 186 points in the ’63-‘64 game, including a series high 45 by Xavier’s Steve Thomas, in the Bearcats’ 94-92 win.

Unbelievably, twice Cincinnati has come into the game as the number one team in the nation, and both games resulted in Xavier wins. 71-69 in ’96-’97 and 66-64 in ’99-’00.

But the most infamous moment of the rivalry is the infamous fight that took place between players in the ’11-’12 season game, a game Xavier soundly won 76-53. With 18.6 seconds left in the 2nd half, there was trash talk between Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Cincinnati’s Ge’Lawn Guyn, then the trash talk led to pushing and shoving, and that’s when the other players got involved. The officials called the game with 9.4 seconds left, and Xavier got the win.

Several suspensions were issued after the game and the future of the game was on hiatus.

After negotiations, an agreement came to move the game to a natural location, US Bank Arena, and a decision would be made after the ’13-’14 game as to whether the series would continue, based on behavior of the players. The series’ name was also changed to the ‘Crosstown Classic’ to try and dissociate the series with the fight and reclaim the legacy the series once had.

The future of the series is uncertain, with threats to cancel the series after the brawl and the behavior of the players and students being monitored closely by the schools. But even if the series is discontinued for some reason, we can always look back at the glories and bragging rights of the past, and hopefully have many more to come in the future.

Whether you like Cincinnati, Xavier, or just get caught up in the hype, the Crosstown Shootout is a Cincinnati tradition that everyone should look forward to each winter and celebrate with friends and family.

And here’s to St. Nick bringing the Bearcats a win in next year’s game!