Time & Place: 7:00 PM ET, Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, OH
TV: ESPN2 (Adam Amin, Len Elmore, & Seth Greenberg)
Stream: WatchESPN (where available)
Gamblin’ Info: Cincinnati is a 3.5-point favorite via OddsShark. The over/under opened at 136.5.
The No. 24 Xavier Musketeers and No. 19 Cincinnati Bearcats will face off in the 84th Edition of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout on Thursday night. The rivalry returns to Fifth Third Arena for the first time since their February 2015 matchup, in which the Musketeers got the best of the Bearcats 59-57.
Cincy leads the all-time series 49-34. However, Xavier has controlled the series 14-6 since the 1996-97 season and has won the last three Crosstown Shootouts.
Xavier takes time out of their Big East schedule to take on the Bearcats. After losing three straight to the Big East’s top three schools, the Musketeers were able to right the ship with a convincing 86-75 win over Georgetown.
The trio of Edmond Sumner, Trevion Bluiett, and JP Macura will have to be the scoring engine once again. They have averaged 61.5 percent of Xavier’s total points per game.
It will also be important to continue to keep their opponent off of the boards. According to KenPom.com, Xavier maintains the third-lowest opponent offensive rebound rate in the nation at 22.4 percent of available rebounds.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati hasn’t lost a game in a while. The team is 17-2 and 7-0 in American Athletic Conference play. Their last loss, interestingly enough, was on December 10 to another Big East school: Butler.
The Bearcats have found success with their grinding offense and halting defense. They average 65.9 possessions per 40 minutes and only allow 89.6 points per 100 possessions, the sixth-fewest amount in the nation.
Cincinnati will most likely seek to control the tempo on offense, pester on defense, and do enough to get the Fifth Third Arena crowd active. The Bearcats haven’t won in their home gym since 2011 against Xavier (their 2012-13 win took place downtown at US Bank Arena). Xavier has their work cut out for them as they seek to keep their Shootout winning streak alive.