Ready for the Crosstown Classic?
I think I've been back in town for the last 16 Crosstown Shootouts/Classics. I remember when this game used to dominate the week on Sports Talk radio. I remember the back and forth of fans. I remember making bets on this game. This game was once dubbed "The best rivalry in college basketball", by The Sporting News. But I don't recall a matchup that has created less buzz than this year. The game seems more of an afterthought. I've had more conversation/reaction to the MLB ruling on home plate collisions this week. Heck, Mick Cronin said he was worried about UC's ticket sales on his radio show last week. Honestly, I debated whether to make this game Topic A tonight on Sports Talk. It will be Topic A tonight, if only to ask if it should be?
What has happened to this game?
1. The game comes too early in the year. Nobody is ready for this game. Sadly college basketball has become more about the final destination than the journey. Many fans don't flip their switch to college hoops until February or March. The casual fan worries about college basketball when their bracket sheet is due.
2. These teams play 30+ regular games. Sorry, but 1 of 30 regular season games means what?
3. College basketball used to offer the city a distraction during down times for the pro teams. But these aren't the 90's when the Bengals lost, a lot. We aren't in the middle of nine straight losing seasons by the Reds. The focus of the city is the Bengals and Reds. Both teams are winning, and both teams offer compelling story lines. Storylines this week have been about Brandon Phillips being traded and if the Bengals can reach the 2-seed in the AFC?
4. Maybe we've reached a point of taking the game for granted? Maybe the game needs to be put on ice for a couple of years? Isn't the old saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder"? Maybe an every year matchup should be an every couple of years matchup?
5. The two schools can't even figure out the future of the game. Will it be played? Where it will be played? My sense continues to be that the game either remains at US Bank or the series ends. UC is not packing up and heading to Cintas Center.
6. Sorry to play the Huggs' card, but this series lost its black hat a long time ago. Bob Huggins was Bob Huggins. Love him or hate him, people reacted to him. Mick Cronin and Chris Mack are Mick Cronin and Chris Mack.
7. This game used to have the built in Big Brother (UC) vs Little Brother (XU) storyline. UC used to be the big, badass Bearcats, dressed in blacked, bringing attitude and a national ranking. The reality is, Little Brother has had more success over the last decade plus, outdraws Big Brother, and plays in a higher profile conference. UC fans have always carried the college hoops conversation. What do UC fans have to say?
8. No casual fan sex appeal. Neither team enters this game ranked. Neither teams grabs the attention of the casual sports fan in town. XU fans are still feeling out their team after three straight losses in the Bahamas. With so few games on TV, most UC fans aren't even sure what their team looks like, let alone how good they are.
9. If this game was the big deal it used to be, it would not be continually shuffled around various time slots and channels. A game that's a big deal, is slotted Saturday afternoon on CBS or night on ESPN, or a midweek showcase game on ESPN. Instead, the TV landing spot this year is Fox Sports 1. A big game is Dick Vitale, not Donny Marshall. At least the game isn't Saturday at noon on ESPNU.
10. Ticket prices: Tickets for the Crosstown Classic are $35, $50, $75 and $125. Seriously? Is it any wonder why over 6,000 tickets remain?
11. Yea, maybe I just long for the good old days, days of a Terry Nelson prediction, a Pete Gillen-Huggins non-handshake and a Lenny Brown buzzer beater. And, there is something to be said for the moment. When the ball goes up Saturday night, the crowd will be into it. But admit it, this game has lost that feeling. I'm not sure it's coming back, the game, or the feeling. Maybe I just need to accept that?
Did I leave anything out? Join the discussion in the comment section below.
Uncertainty surrounds Crosstown Classic's future
Bill Koch and Shannon Russell, Enquirer
When fans file out of U.S. Bank Arena Saturday night after the 81st edition of the basketball rivalry between Cincinnati and Xavier, they won’t know where the game will be played next year – or even if it will.
Cronin: Classic should be moved to February
Bill Koch, Enquirer
“Maybe playing it early is a disservice to the game before the eyes of the city are really turned to college basketball,” Cronin said Thursday. “If we can get national TV to take the game in January where we could both get a break from our conferences, a lot of teams do that. Everything is on the table.”
Xavier hosts Crosstown Classic
Shannon Russell, Enquirer
Roughly 10,000 tickets out of a possible 16,000 have been sold for this year’s game. Xavier did not include the Classic in its season ticket package but gave its season ticket holders the first option to purchase tickets before they went on sale to the public.