Tonight, we will witness the 84th edition of the Cincinnati Bearcats taking on rival Xavier Musketeers in the annual Skyline Chili’s Crosstown Shootout! This is my favorite event of the year during college basketball. There’s nothing like the rivalry between Cincinnati and Xavier. Yes, there are other famous college basketball rivalries like Louisville vs Kentucky and Duke vs North Carolina but the UC vs Xavier owns bragging rights in the city. The other rivalries have bragging rights in the state. 3.5 miles away from each other, Xavier and UC host this annual event to show which team owns the city of Cincinnati. As of now, Cincinnati has a 49 to 34 advantage over Xavier but the Musketeers have won 7 of the last 9 meeting including 3 straight victories over the Bearcats. However, this year could be different.
Currently the 17-2 Cincinnati Bearcats hold a 10 game win streak at home. What makes this squad so different from previous years is the offensive instinct that we’ve been lacking in years past. The offense is scoring 77.3/ppg, the highest ever in Mick Cronin’s tenure with 3 scorers averaging in double figures. The addition of NC State transfer, Kyle Washington, is adding the offensive boost we’ve been dying for. Sophomore Jacob Evans is a proven scorer and Senior Captain and Point Guard Troy Caupain is carrying the team on his back. The 3 combined is averaging 38.4/ppg. Our bench is proving noteworthy as well. Tre Scott, Jarron Cumberland, and Justin Jenifer are all getting quality minutes and the 3 are averaging 14.7/ppg. The Bearcats still have the mighty defensive prowess that we’ve all come to know and love, leading the conference in steals and blocks. This is a team with something to prove and they’re ready to showcase that tonight.
The Xavier Musketeers, still in the big east conference, are coming off winning 2 of their last 5 games. 3 of those losses came against ranked teams within their own conference. What makes this team really good is the trio of Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura, and Edmond Summer. They all know how to score and rebound. Summer leads the team with 4.8 assists a game. They are currently 14-5 and 24th ranked in the country but that’s all cast aside when they play the Cincinnati Bearcats. There have been 2 instances where Xavier knocked off the Cincinnati Bearcats when the Bearcats were #1 in the country. In 3 straight years, Xavier has beaten Cincinnati and seniors Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson have never tasted a Crosstown Shootout victory. They can’t lose tonight. They can’t go 0-4 against Xavier. This year, whenever the Bearcats host games at Fifth Third Arena, their mantra is to “protect this house”, meaning they want to go undefeated at home. I can tell seniors Caupain and Johnson want this year to be special for them and I do too. If they can get this win, not only they will get a quality win on their NCAA tourney resume but they will have bragging rights of the city. Tonight, a city is divided. Fifth Third will be a mad house with screaming Bearcats fans. This is their time to shine and prove they ARE contenders in college basketball and make a statement in March. It will no doubt be a bloodbath and cannot wait to watch this game. I’m so ready and ready for a good game! Go Bearcats!