• My Scores
  • Golf
  • NFL
  • NCAA FB
  • NCAA BB
  • NBA
  • NHL

Xavier vs Cincinnati

Time: 07:00 P.M. EST
  •  

CINCINNATI (AP) - The city's storied basketball rivalry is back in a very different format.

When Xavier and Cincinnati played last season, their annual crosstown game ended with punches and punishments - four players from each team suspended. The small Catholic school and large public school, separated by only 2 1/2 miles, spent the rest of the season dealing with the black mark on their reputations and one of the city's marquee sporting events.

The overriding question: Should the rivalry end?

It'll be renewed on Wednesday night in a different setting. The game has been moved away from the campuses, bringing fans of both schools together in the stands at a downtown arena.

The mood is different, too. There's been no trash talking between Xavier (7-2) and No. 11 Cincinnati (10-0). Both teams are avoiding talk of the brawl as well, wishing they could move beyond it.

A good, clean game on Wednesday night would go a long way.

"It was a regrettable moment," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "We lived that a year ago. As an educator, someone who mentors players, the message has been that we need to learn from what happened a year ago. And I think our kids have."

The two schools and basketball fans around the city have learned what it's like when a sporting event gets out of hand.

Xavier was unbeaten and ranked No. 8 when it beat the Bearcats 76-53 on the Musketeers' home court last season. With 9.4 seconds left, words were exchanged, the basketball was flung and fists started flying - the darkest moment in the rivalry's 79-game history.

Four players from each team were suspended for up to six games. Coaches and players gave emotional apologies. The schools talked about whether to skip the rivalry game for a year.

With its top two front-line players suspended, Cincinnati went to a three-guard offense and took off, reaching the NCAA tournament's round of 16. Xavier fell apart and didn't regroup until the closing weeks of the season, also reaching the round of 16. Both teams had to answer questions about the fight's lingering effects the rest of the way.

Eventually, they agreed to keep the rivalry going, but wanted to remove its nasty edge. The game was moved to a downtown arena for the next two seasons. The name was changed from the Crosstown Shootout to the Crosstown Classic. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center became a partner. Students and players from both schools toured the center together.

Five of the eight suspended players have moved on, including four who started last year. There's been no boasting, no turning the game into a referendum on which program is better - a notable break from the past.

"Everyone on their team is very talented and very good as well," Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick said. "Their starters are as good as our starters and their bench can be as good as our bench. We don't know how it's going to be, but it will be a great matchup."

Part of the rivalry's edge comes from proximity. The players face each other during summer league games in Cincinnati. Fans from both schools work side-by-side during the week. They relish their once-a-year bragging rights event.

"The animosity that people outside the region perceived is not the case," Mack said. "And we have to make sure that's highlighted when we play on Wednesday night. It's going to be a hard-played game, it always is. But it's got to be one that's played the way it was played in the past, and it will be."

The officials are likely to call it close, which could benefit the Bearcats, who have a much deeper bench.

The Bearcats also are more familiar with the downtown U.S. Bank Arena, where Cincinnati plays more regularly and has won it last 17 games. Xavier hasn't played at the arena since 2007-08. The schools played their rivalry there 10 times from 1976-87 before moving it on campus.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin thinks the neutral site will be helpful to both teams.

"It readies your team for postseason because that's where the NCAA tournament is," Cronin said. "They're played at big arenas, downtown arenas at neutral sites. I think it's great for the city that we're playing down at U.S. Bank Arena, but at the same time I think it'll be advantageous for both of us come March to have a game like this at a neutral site."

For the coaches, it's a challenge to get their teams through a game that has so much buildup and tends to linger. That part hasn't changed.

"I think it's incredibly important to the community," Mack said. "It's a tough game. It's one game. There are a lot of eyes on the game nationally, locally, you name it, heightened this year a little bit.

"But at the same time when Wednesday comes and goes, both teams have to be able to turn the page. Cincinnati did that a year ago - they went on an incredible run. We didn't."

---

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
College Basketball Current Odds
GameCurrent Line
Cincinnati
@ Xavier
-7
 
Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Creighton0-03-079
Providence0-03-029
St. Johns0-03-0112
Butler0-02-0183
DePaul0-02-037
Georgetown0-02-0127
Villanova0-02-083
Xavier0-02-0183
Seton Hall0-01-013
Marquette0-01-137
American Athletic
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Cincinnati0-02-0183
Connecticut0-02-0269
So. Florida0-02-083
Temple0-02-04
UCF0-02-0269
Houston0-01-013
E. Carolina0-02-1321
Tulsa0-02-1256
SMU0-01-1112
Tulane0-01-1192
Memphis0-00-193

Related Video

November 7, 2014
Chris Mack joins Jim Rome (5:18)
November 18, 2014
Val Ackerman joins We Need To Talk
(4:48)
November 18, 2014
Clark Kellogg on the Doug Gottlieb Show
(6:27)
November 17, 2014
Shaka Smart 'Father Figure'
(2:11)
 

CBSSports.com Shop

Mens No. 34 Kansas Jayhawks adidas Cream Replica Basketball Jersey

2015 College Basketball Jerseys
Get your school today
Shop Now

 
 
 
Other Games
SELA 43 Final
FLA 82
MTSM 54 Final
IND 93
FIU 55 Final
LOU 79
CORN 47 Final
DUKE 88
KEN 57 Final
ND 85
UTA 44 Final
OKST 69
TLSA 54 Final
CREI 71
NMEX 68 Final
NMST 63
CAMP 52 Final
GONZ 74
UNC 67 Final
UT 85
UNI 59 Final
UNLV 73