CINCINNATI - It may have been rebranded with a new name and moved to a new location this year, but the annual get-together on the court between the men’s college basketball programs from the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University is shaping up to be as much of a “Crosstown Classic” as any in recent memory.
Here's a look at the favorited Bearcats to get you prepared for the 80th all-time meeting between UC and Xavier, which will be played Wednesday night at U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
UC is coming off a 72-56 road win over Marshall on Saturday in Charleston, W.Va. Cashmere Wright led the Bearcats with 14 points and four 3-pointers. Sean Kilpatrick added 13 points and six rebounds. Justin Jackson had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting with three steals and three assists.
Ranked Among The Best
The No. 11 Bearcats come into the Classic ranked 10-0 to start a season for the second time in the past three years and the 10th time in school history. UC also entered the week as one of only eight undefeated teams in the nation. Syracuse (10-0) is the only other undefeated team in the Big East.
The Bearcats are one of five teams in the Big East currently ranked in the top 25. Joining UC are No. 3 Syracuse, No. 4 Louisville (9-1; previously ranked No. 1), No. 21 Georgetown (9-1) and No. 22 Notre Dame (10-1).
Connecticut (8-2), which is currently unranked, has knocked off No. 14 Michigan State and lost by four points to No. 25 NC State.
Home For The Holidays
There have been a lot of home-cooked meals before games this season for the Bearcats, who’ve only played away from home three times. Cincinnati is 7-0 in the Queen City this year, which includes wins over Tennessee-Martin, Mississippi Valley State, North Carolina A&T, Campbell, Alabama, Arkansas-Little Rock and Maryland Eastern Shore. UC has won every home game by at least 19 points, with the exception of its 58-56 victory over the Crimson Tide on Dec. 11 that was decided by a last second shot.
Cincinnati did pull out a pair of noteworthy neutral court wins on back-to-back nights during the Global Sports Invitational in Las Vegas in late November. The Bearcats knocked off Iowa State (78-70) on Nov. 23 and Oregon (77-66; championship game) on Nov. 24 en route to the tournament title.
The Bearcats have only played one traditional road game this season, which was its last contest against Marshall in Charleston, W.Va. (Dec. 15). UC cruised to a 72-56 win over the Thundering Herd.
There have not been many marquee names on UC’s schedule thus far this season but the Bearcats have defeated three teams from power conferences (Iowa State (Big 12), Oregon (Pac 12) and Alabama (SEC)).
The Mick Cronin-led squad has not played a team currently ranked in either the AP or USA Today polls so far but two teams on the schedule have been flirting with the polls all season. Oregon (9-1) has knocked off a top-25 team in UNLV and is currently receiving votes in both polls. Alabama (6-3) received votes earlier this season after starting the year 6-0, which included wins over Oregon State and Villanova, before dropping three straight games.
Iowa State is currently 8-3, with its only losses coming to UNLV and UC at the Global Sports Invitational, and Iowa. The Cyclones are also ranked in the top 10 in points (seventh) and rebounds (fourth) in the country.
Stats Don’t (Usually) Lie
The Bearcats come into the contest with Xavier as the top rebounding team in the country, pulling down 46.1 rebounds a night.
UC has also been among the top scoring teams in the country all season. Cincinnati ranks seventh nationally at 83.0 points per contest, which can be attributed to the team’s ability to move the ball around (16.5 assists per game; 27th nationally) and set up and convert quality shot attempts (46.6 percent; 47th nationally).
While they have had their worst offensive output against the top competition on their schedule, including a season-low 58 points against Alabama, the Bearcats did score 78 points against Iowa State and 77 points against Oregon.
UC is coming off a relatively uninspired 72-point road performance against Marshall on Saturday, however.
The UC Backcourt Doesn’t Take A Backseat To Anyone
The Bearcats feature one of the most dynamic and explosive collections of do-it-all guards in the country.
Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick, and senior guards Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker account for 84.6 percent of UC’s 3-pointers (66 of 78); 54.1 percent of its scoring (449 of 830 points); 48.6 percent of its steals (51 of 105) and 47.3 percent of its assists (78 of 165).
Kilpatrick, who leads UC with 19.3 points per game, has scored in double figures in all 10 games this season and has tallied 20 or more points four times. He netted a career-high 32 points against Iowa State (Nov. 23) in the semifinals of the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas.
Wright is one the country’s most dangerous marksman from beyond the arc. Wright