CINCINNATI – How's this sound: Xavier vs. UC for the national championship April 2 in San Antonio?
The Ultimate Crosstown Shootout.
The Queen City rivals have never been so primed to make March Madness success together.
That's not to say they’re rooting for each other, but Xavier coach Chris Mack even gave his counterpart Mick Cronin and the Bearcats a shout-out Sunday after UC beat Wichita State to win their regular-season conference championship.
Congratulations to @CoachCroninUC and his crew. Heck of a year for the #513.
Both teams are 27-4 and riding high after winning their conference titles over the weekend and earning the No. 1 seeds in their conference tourneys this week.
This could be the first step to that XU-UC final.
Both teams get byes into the quarterfinals with Xavier opening Big East Conference play Thursday against the Georgetown/St. John’s winner in New York and UC taking on the UConn/SMU winner Friday in the American Athletic Conference tourney in Orlando.
If they win out, the Musketeers are positioned to grab their first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on next Sunday, based on their current No. 3 rating in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index, The RPI is a key part of the NCAA Selection Committee's formula for choosing and seeding tournament teams.
The Bearcats are projected as a No. 2 seed now based on their No. 7 rating this week.
Xavier and UC haven't been in the AP Top 10 together since 1958.
Two teams from the same city have never met in the NCAA finals. The closest rivals to reach the finals were UC and Ohio State in 1961 and '62. UC won both years.
UC, of course, has a storied basketball history, including those two straight NCAA championships, three straight finals (1961-62-63), five straight Final Fours (1959-63), another Final Four in 1992 and one of the greatest players of all time, Oscar Robertson.
In 2000, UC was ranked No. 1 going into March Madness only to lose the National Player of the Year Kenyon Martin to a broken leg in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament. The stunned Bearcats lost that game and were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round.
Xavier is still looking for its first Final Four, but it has joined the college basketball elite with three Elite Eights and seven Sweet Sixteens since 2004 and its first Big East regular-season championship this year.
Here are the Big East and AAC tournaments schedules:
BIG EAST CONFERENCE Madison Square Garden, New York
First Round, Wednesday, March 7
No. 8 Georgetown vs. No. 9 St. John's, 7 p.m., FS1
No. 7 Marquette vs. No. 10 DePaul, 9:30 p.m., FS1
Quarterfinals, Thursday, March 8
No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 8/9 seed winner, Noon, FS1
No. 4 Creighton vs. No. 5 Providence, 2:30 p.m., FS1
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7/10 seed winner, 7 p.m., FS1
No. 3 Seton Hall vs. No. 6 Butler, 9:30 p.m., FS1