Are you ready for the CROSSTOWN SHOOTOUT?
Published: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2011 13:10
For the 68th straight year and the 79th time in history, the men's basketball teams of Xavier University and University of Cincinnati will meet in what has become known nationally as the Crosstown Shootout. The match was first played in 1927, celebrating the opening of Schmidt Fieldhouse and the teams have met at least once a year since 1945. In 2010, the game was ranked among the top 150 sporting events in the world.
The games seem to be more than a contest of basketball skill. It truly is a showdown of both universities
as a whole with academics, fan base and other factors being dragged into the mix. "Beating UC is one of the greatest feelings a Xavier fan and student can experience
because it not only shows we have a great basketball team but also how great of a school Xavier is overall," Rachel Clark, a junior and cross country/track runner at Xavier said. Xavier is a Jesuit, liberal
arts institution while UC offers over 300 degree granting programs. In athletics, UC fields 18 Division I teams in the Big East conference. Xavier fields 16, mostly in the smaller Atlantic 10. Xavier, based on statistics, should certainly be the perennial underdog. However, Xavier has won the matchup 10 out of the last 15 times.
There is no doubt that when it comes to basketball, students at the opposing institutions will consistently
and passionately disagree. Xavier fans believe UC has a weak non-conference line up, and UC will contend that Xavier plays in a "cupcake" conference. After all, this is sport, and fans (rightfully the abbreviated form of fanatic) do not forget.
Every winter, the classic crosstown
competitions rise to the surface and threaten to boil over during game time. In the recent past, rivalry has been fueled by two Xavier victories, in 1996 and 1999, over UC teams that were ranked #1 in the nation. Additionally, in 1994 UC coach Bob Huggins infamously
refused to shake hands with Xavier's head coach, Pete Gillen after
a Xavier overtime victory. Some Xavier fans are still smoldering over the obvious lack of sportsmanship.
In 2009, Xavier and UC battled through two overtimes resulting in an 83-79 Xavier win that featured stellar performances by Tu Holloway and UC's Lance Stephenson. The game was one of the most physical and heated matches in recent memory. Twice, the teams had to be separated before
full-team fights took place and it seemed every time a timeout was called, players had to be dragged to their respective benches as they yelled at their competition.
Last year, the game took place on Jan. 6 at Fifth Third Arena, so many Xavier students were forced to sit around TVs trying not to yell expletives in front of visiting relatives as Xavier lost by 20 points in the most lopsided Crosstown Shootout in a decade. This year's match takes place on Dec. 10 at the Cintas Center. The game comes near the end of a tough non-conference
schedule for Xavier that includes
Georgia, Vanderbilt, Purdue and Butler. It will likely be a crucial game for both schools, as it will be one of the last chances either side has to prove itself against a tough, non-conference opponent. At the end, there will be a winner and a loser, and it ultimately is just a game.
Or is it? For students, faculty,
other athletes and coaches on Xavier's campus, what does the Crosstown Shootout mean overall?
For Xavier's head basketball coach, Chris Mack, the Crosstown Shootout is business as usual except that a win against UC means much more than the average game and a loss will hurt for quite some time."I hate losing that game. Last year eats at me. As the face of our program,
I get tired of hearing about UC when I'm out in public. I love beating those guys. I have respect for the program that Mick's built back up, but I want nothing more than to win," Mack said. However as Coach Mack is quick to point out (and as last season proves), the rivalry does not determine the success of the season. "Once the game's over, it's over. We continue to improve and learn from the experience,
win or lose."
For other key players in Xavier's athletic scene that aren't a part of the basketball team, the matchup still carries passionate meanings. "The game is not just about pride for the schools involved, but about pride for the city of Cincinnati. Every year the game is played with a passion that is unlike other regular season games," Erik Alanson athletic
academic advisor, said. Fans want a deciding factor that proves which team is the best, and this view seems to be shared among all of Xavier athletics.
"I think it really means something
to be the best ticket in town, knowing that the winner of the game each year gets bragging rights for 365 days. We both think that our institution is better than the other and the Crosstown Shootout gives the argument an outcome that everyone accepts," Brent MacDonald, Xavier's head swim coach, said.
While men's basketball certainly generates the most excitement and publicity, the UC vs. Xavier rivalry is alive in many other disciplines as well. "I think many people overlook
the fact that more teams than just basketball have crosstown ‘shootouts'. Golf, women's soccer, men's soccer, track and field, as well as men's and women's swimming
are a few of the teams here at Xavier that get excited to defend their town against a rival school," Cori Dayton, a strength and conditioning
coach for Xavier, said.
With Xavier men's soccer reaching
national relevance, the rivalry is certainly blossoming on the soccer field. This year's match completely lived up to the rivalry's standard as the game ended in a 1-1 tie after two overtimes. "[UC] is supposed to be the more prominent program in Cincinnati. That game on that night allows our soccer team to represent