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Freshman orientation: five essential facts about Xavier basketball for new students

You don't even get an intro paragraph here; we're going right from the top.

This is the one we really want to win.
This is the one we really want to win.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

1. We hate UC

We could frame it in more polite terms, but that would be selling the rivalry short. Duke and North Carolina have a reasonable, well-bred distaste for one another. Xavier and UC interact more like European soccer clubs than two institutes of higher learning (well, one of those plus UC) on American soil. In that familiarity breeds contempt, these programs are familiar with one another the way that Cain and Abel were.

This all kind of hit a boiling point in 2011. UC players spent the week on the radio being goaded into saying that Xavier star Tu Holloway wouldn't even start for the Bearcats. Tu and backcourt running mate Mark "The King of Upstate" Lyons spent the game demolishing UC and then letting them know about it. The game ended in a brawl that cleared both benches and left both programs with figurative and literal black eyes. Post-game proclamations by Holloway that "we zipped 'em in a f***ing body bag" and "we've got a whole bunch of gangstas in that locker room" were quickly circulated by the media to add to the whole fire storm.

You can read about it hereherehere, and here for more info.

Xavier administration and staff acted suitably embarrassed about the whole thing. Xavier fans printed shirts that said "Zip 'Em Up" and still trend the slogan as a hashtag whenever the Muskies bury an opponent.

2. We run the city

There was a time when UC was in the best basketball conference in the nation and Xavier was struggling under the label of "mid-major." Those roles are reversed now, as X is a perennial Big East contender and Cincinnati plays in a mediocre football conference that also happens to include basketball. Even when UC was a national player though, Xavier was more than their equal in head-to-head contests. Most notably, Cinci came into the Crosstown Shootout ranked #1 in the 96-97 season, only to have Xavier guard Lenny Brown knock them off with an iconic runner in the lane as time expired.

UC was once again #1 for the 99-00 Shootout and once again went down, this time at the hands of Kevin Frey running pell-mell the length of the floor to seal the game - and set of rapturous celebrations - with a dunk.

Starting with Lenny in the Lane, Xavier has run off 13 wins in 19 Shootouts. The Musketeers also do things like play in arguably the best basketball conference in the country and make the Sweet 16 on a regular basis, both of which are the subjects of much jealousy from UC fans.

3. We are trending up

As mentioned above, Xavier is now a perennial power on the national stage. X has gone to 13 of the last 15 NCAA tournaments and 5 of the last 8 Sweet 16s. Despite placing coaches at Ohio State and Arizona, Xavier continues trucking along under Coach Mack, tallying highly-rated recruiting classes, moving up in conferences until there's no more up to move, and racking up marquee wins. Things are currently very good at Xavier, and they're moving towards great. If you're a freshman today and you stick around for all four years, you've got about a coin-toss chance of seeing your school in the Final Four.

4. We graduate everyone

Everyone? Everyone. If Xavier brings in a player - by transfer or as a recruit from high school - and that guy exhausts his eligibility at X, he's leaving with a degree. This is a streak that covers 96 players, stretching back to 1986. A lot of this is down to Sister Rose Ann Fleming, the nun/campus celebrity who works as a special academic advisor to the men's basketball team. She is so revered that former players who return to visit the campus almost invariably track her down and get their pictures taken with her.

On the rare occasions when things go wrong on the court, this is the moral high ground to which we retreat.

5. We have a great home-court advantage

Xavier wins more than 87% of their games contested at home since the Cintas Center opened, and a poll conducted by EA Sports found that Cintas was the 3rd toughest place for visitors to play. Home play was basically a guaranteed win when welcoming A-10 opponents into Cintas, but moving up to the Big East has hardly dented Xavier's ability to defend the home court. This, by the way, is where we come back to you. Now that you're on the rolls as a Xavier student, you're part of showing up and making sure the other team knows that they're going home with a loss. Get plugged in with the Xtreme Fans and work from there.

BONUS: Banners is your home for Xavier coverage all season long

Clearly I'm not going to deprive you of a thing you know just to shill for a site you're already on, but I do want to put in a shameless plug for what we do here. We've been doing in-season work for more than five years now, and we'll have you covered from stem to stern with everything you could possibly want to know. We'll preview and recap each game and have chat threads live during them. We'll track news that develops between games, analyze statistical trends from the highly meaningful to the questionably worthwhile, and generally pick apart everything that happens from the first exhibition game to the final horn whenever it all ends for Xavier. In the meantime - as mentioned before - we'll deluge you with pertinent information to preview the season.

I could go on about what we do here because we're proud of it; if you stick around and watch us work, I think you'll see why. If you're not satisfied with our Xavier coverage, you can take solace in the fact that it didn't cost you $9.95 a month to figure that out.