If you follow Cincinnati Bearcats basketball you know this week is #BeatX aka beat Xavier week, if you are keeping up on social media it is a lot of slander going back both ways and it is fun to watch. Obviously it’s more fun to see our fan base say or do funny things, but it is fun to watch the push back from the other side too.
The Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout will be played for the 84th time on Thursday. Was it always called the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout? No, but nonetheless these two rivals who are only separated by 5 miles of earth will be locking up at Fifth Third Arena in front a packed house.
This year will only be the third team both teams will be ranked in the AP Top 25 polls during the matchup (UC being 19th and Xavier being 24th). This game doesn’t need more fuel to the fire, but a Cincinnati win could knock Xavier out of the Top 25 for a little bit how dope would that be on top of them being able to break a three game losing streak?
Xavier has a three game winning streak which means Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson and Zach Tobler haven’t won in the Shootout. A win Thursday would be something everybody on the team would want to experience, but especially those three seniors I mentioned in the previous sentence.
I’m going to highlight three keys for the guys from Clifton to get a victory on Thursday:
1. Don’t fall in love with the three- Because of the pack line 1-3-1 the Musketeers play the Bearcats must take smart threes because it apart of their game, but they can’t shoot bad/forced threes. For the season they are shooting 35.4% from behind the arc with 7.1 made threes per game. Last year I feel like the 1-3-1 allowed them to shoot too many threes without involving the post first, this year that can’t happen. Play inside out and they will be very successful Gary Clark and Kyle Washington will be problems for the Musketeers all night exploit that weakness.
2. Play more uptempo- I know that sounds a little crazy with Cronin coached teams, but the Bearcats have the talent to make it happen. They don’t have to be out of character, but they need to shoot the ball with more than five seconds left on the shot clock to allow this method to work. When they shoot with more time on the clock after solid ball movement it doesn’t allow the defense to load up on the offense aka the Caupain drive (with under five seconds on the clock).
3. Seniors must seize the moment- Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson have never defeated Xavier and the way the Bearcats are rolling right now it is no better time than the present to end that losing streak. Caupain and Johnson have been playing solid especially in conference play both have received American Athletic Conference Honor Roll because of their play in various weeks. If both players have a great game statistically that would be cool, but the main thing is the big moment if either one of these players get a chance to make an important play they need to make it happen. They have to slay the dragon and with two seniors who have the pulse of this team I expect them to be able to do it.