CINCINNATI – Xavier and Cincinnati basketball fans may not agree on which team is better, but the crosstown rivals can agree on this:
Nashville is the place to be this weekend.
Hundreds of students and alums are planning to head to the Music City to watch the Musketeers and the Bearcats get double billing in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s not unusual for both teams to make the tournament, but they’ve never played at the same site. Another first: no city has ever been able to boast of having a No. 1 and a No. 2 seed in the tournament.
The Queen City and its two largest campuses were filled with excitement and pride Monday.
“I think it's awesome. It's phenomenal,” said Ryan Koslen of the UC Sports Information Department.
At Xavier, alum Craig Maness was in the campus shop buying Xavier merchandise. He already had his tickets.
”After the selection show yesterday, I went online last night and got an all-session pass for Nashville,” Maness said. That enables him to attend all four Friday games and two Sunday games. He’s hoping Xavier and UC both win Friday and play again Sunday (but not against each other) in the second round.
The schools get only 350 tickets for Friday’s first-round games, Koslen said – not enough for all the Xavier and UC fans who want to squeeze inside Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators National Hockey League team.
But many will go to Nashville (it's just a four-hour drive) anyway to be close to the action, with plans to attend watch parties or with hopes of buying a ticket from a scalper at the right price. More tickets will be available for Sunday’s second-round games when the fans from the teams that lose Friday sell theirs and head back home.
Another Xavier fan, Vicki Niswonger, said she will be staying close to her home.
“We're going to Molly's to watch the game and cheer ‘em on with all the local fans,” she said, and she’s bringing her young grandkids, too.
Xavier says it will have watch parties in alumni cities all over the country. It will have one for students in the student center and for alums at a pizza place near campus.
Koslen said watch parties for UC fans are in the works.