Head To Head

With Kelly on the DL, it's been difficult for me to get back to writing. Today makes it a little easier. Tonight is the Crosstown Shootout, the rivalry game between the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. I'm not sure that they are bitter rivals [they have been playing since 1928], but this match-up divides the city like nothing else. Whether it's the "Xavier Girls Are Ugly" shirts, or the "Convicts verses Catholics" reply, you're supposed to chose a side and stick with it. I've always been a Cincinnati fan [perhaps because I'm not Catholic?] but have rooted for Xavier from the sidelines . . . except of course, during the Crosstown Shootout.

It was never a big deal to me until last spring when I enrolled in grad school at Xavier. I finally bought some Xavier gear and have been seen wearing it around town. I've become more familiar with the school, the campus, and even talked to Coach Sean Miller as he was walking across campus one day. One might suspect that this would cause me to back Xavier tonight, especially since we're now writing checks to Xavier.

But it's not happening.

More than ever, I'm following what Xavier is doing [enhanced by the fact that my neighbor is their beat writer and knows everything about the team]. In a midwestern city like ours, I think you can pay attention to both programs and hope that they perform at a high level. It's not like hating the Pittsburgh Steelers or the University of Michigan. Tomorrow morning we'll wake up and both Xavier and UC will be located in the city of Cincinnati. That's why I attest that it's not truly a bitter rivalry. Sure, they'll be some hatred tonight, but by the weekend, no one will care.

I will admit that I wore my Xavier sweatshirt this morning as I went out earlier to play basketball, but after coming home and showering I'm wearing a UC shirt the rest of the day. Fortunately I don't have class tonight, as I would've had to wear it there. First and foremost, UC is my team, no matter where I'm going to school.

This would be the year, however, if I was going to switch sides to do so. I've never witnessed UC fans being so low key about a match-up, obviously realizing that the Bearcats are going to be out-gunned. But before you empty the bank account and drop it all on X to win tonight, I'd encourage you to sit this one out.

The only consistent thing about this rivalry records can be thrown out the window. Last year Xavier was the favorite and lost. Twice during the 1990's UC was ranked #1 in the nation and lost this game. The players on both these teams usually play in the summer league together, so there's a familiarity between them; they know the other's tendencies and aren't intimidated. So even though this year looks like it sets up for a Musketeer romp, watch for the Bearcats to keep it close.

Regardless, it's a good time. And I'm looking forward to it.