Two Queen City rivals meet again on Saturday afternoon, as the Xavier Musketeers (6-3) and Cincinnati Bearcats (8-1) face off in the Crosstown Shootout. This is the 86th edition of the matchup, the 14th matchup to be held at Fifth Third Arena. However, it is the first game held there since large-scale renovations were completed.
Cincinnati holds a 50-35 series lead. However, Xavier has gone 15-7 since 1996. The Musketeers won last season’s matchup 89-76.
Time & Place: 2:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN2 (Jason Benetti, Dan Dakich)
Radio: WKRC 550 AM (Xavier: Joe Sunderman, Byron Larkin); WLW 700 AM (Cincinnati: Dan Hoard, Terry Nelson)
Gambling (via OddsShark): Cincinnati opened as 8-point favorites. They are 5-4 against the spread this season. Xavier is 3-5-1 against the spread.
About the Combatants
About the Musketeers
Xavier enters the Shootout on a four-game winning streak. These victories can be summarized as strong offensive efforts against beatable opponents. The Musketeers scored at least 82 points in three of the four wins, while things have been a little more volatile on the defensive end of the ball.
Xavier’s progress this year has been a group effort. With the top-two scorers being sophomores and three grad transfers in the rotation, this team is still figuring each other out. Four consecutive wins show they are at least on the right track.
This Cincinnati game is not big just because it’s a rivalry game. It also serves as their final major test before the Big East schedule kicks off. Xavier unfortunately fell short against powerhouses Wisconsin and Auburn earlier in the season. However, defeating the 34th KenPom-ranked team on the road would be a very pleasing sign of progress.
About the Other Guys
On Nov. 7, the Cincinnati Bearcats lost their season opener to the Ohio State Buckeyes 64-56. They have not lost a game since.
Cincy was picked to finish second in the American this season, and they’re making a strong case here in the non-conference schedule. The Bearcats rank in the Top 50 on both sides of the ball. According to College Basketball Reference, Cincinnati’s 113.9 offensive rating is 37th-best in the nation and their 87.8 defensive rating is 24th.
The kicker to this impressive start is that it has been accomplished on a fairly weak schedule. Xavier is their toughest opponent since the Ohio State game, and is the first in a three-game stretch that includes dates against No. 22 Mississippi State and UCLA.
Therefore, this game is also a test for Cincinnati. This Bearcats squad will look to prove, in front of their fans, that this hot start is not a fluke.