Crosstown Classic (basketball)

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2008 shootout logo

The Crosstown Shootout, formerly known as the Crosstown Classic, is an annual men's college basketball game played between the University of Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier University Musketeers. The two schools are separated by 3 miles (4.8 km) in Cincinnati, making the archrivalry one of the closest major rivalries in the country. The game was first played in 1927, and has been played every year since 1946. In recent years, the game has been sponsored by Skyline Chili. UC currently leads the series with a record of 49–33, but Xavier has won 13 of the last 19 meetings, and by far has been the better team in the city for the past two decades.

Throughout its history, the game has been played at six different venues including the Armory Fieldhouse and Fifth Third Arena on the UC campus; and the Schmidt Field House and Cintas Center on the Xavier campus. However, the majority of the games have been played at two other sites—Cincinnati Gardens and U.S. Bank Arena. The Gardens has served as the regular home court for both schools at different times, and was even shared by both teams from 1987 to 1989. U.S. Bank Arena was UC's home court from 1976–87 when it was known as Riverfront Coliseum.

From 1989 to 2011, the game alternated between the schools' on-campus arenas. However, the 2011 game was marred at the end by a bench-clearing brawl. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on May 22, 2012 that due to the brawl, the game would be held at U.S. Bank Arena for the next two seasons. The continuation of the series beyond the 2013-14 season would depend on the behavior of the players and fans.[1] On June 14, 2012, both schools held a joint press conference at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center announcing that the annual rivalry will now be called "Skyline Chili Crosstown Classic.".[2]

On May 13, 2014, after a two year series at U.S. Bank Arena, the two rivals announced at a joint press conference that they will return to playing their annual men's basketball game on-campus, ditching the moniker of Classic in the process and returning the series to its previous name of the Skyline Crosstown Shootout.[3] The agreement for the alternating home-and-home series is for ten years. The first game of the series will be February 18, 2015 during ESPN's Rivalry Week. Xavier will host Cincinnati December 12, 2015 at the Cintas Center. The dates for the first two games were set, ensuring that students are on campus when the game is played.

Notable Games[edit]

1963-64: A series-high 45 points was scored by Xavier's Steve Thomas, but Cincinnati's Ron Bonham scored 35 en route to a 94-92 Bearcats victory.[4] The 186 combined points is still the most in series history.

1996-97: The Cincinnati Bearcats were ranked #1 in the country and were largely considered frontrunners for the national championship by several media outlets, including Sports Illustrated. Xavier's Lenny Brown made a running one-hander at the buzzer to propel Xavier to a 71-69 win. Both teams made it to the NCAA Second Round.[4]

1999-00: Again the Bearcats were ranked #1 in the country. And again Xavier defeated Cincinnati 66-64 in the final moments of the game on two free throws and a breakaway dunk by Kevin Frey.[4] Both teams made the NCAA tournament.

2009-2010: Xavier beat Cincinnati in double-overtime thriller at the Cintas Center 83-79. The game was remembered because of future NBA players, Xavier's Jordan Crawford and Cincinnati's Lance Stephenson, going head to head. However, Xavier's Tu Holloway stole the show scoring a then career high 26.[5]

2011-12: Xavier, ranked #8 in the country, handily beat the Bearcats 76-53. But the focus of the game was the bench-clearing brawl which resulted in the game ending with 9.4 seconds left and the subsequent suspensions of four Bearcat players and four Musketeer players.[6] Despite speculation that the rivalry would cease to exist following the brawl, UC President Greg Williams stated to the Sporting News, "Every indication is that we are going to play next year." [7] Both teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

2014-2015: The February 18th game in 2015 was played at Cincinnati's Fifth Third Arena, and was the first game back on campus since 2011. It sure didn't disappoint either. Xavier lead by 12 points at halftime, and was dominating Cincinnati. However, Cincinnati came all the way back to take a 57-56 lead in the final minute of the game. The student section was going absolutely crazy, and it looked like Cincinnati might finally be able to get a win against mighty Xavier. However, freshman Trevon Bluiett was fouled and made two clutch free throws with 11.5 seconds left (his only points of the game) to give Xavier a 58-57 lead. Farad Cobb missed a three point jumper to seal the win for the Musketeers. The win was a big one for Xavier, and spring-boarded them to their fifth "Sweet 16" appearance in eight years.[8]


The rivalry between Cincinnati and Xavier is regarded as one of the best in the game. The two schools' short distance apart has distinguished it as a proximity rivalry. From 1990 through 2011, the game alternated between Xavier's and Cincinnati's campus arenas on a yearly basis.[9] ESPN's Jay Bilas was quoted as saying, "Cincinnati and Xavier have created a rivalry that is unparalleled when it comes to outright passion and civic division." [10]

In 1990 a local TV station refused to interrupt their coverage of the Cincinnati-Xavier game for the 1990 State of the Union address .[11]

The game is widely regarded as one of the hottest tickets in town every year. The game is also regularly attended by local legends and sports icons Pete Rose and basketball great and former Bearcat Oscar Robertson.

College comparison[edit]