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Why I love UC (in a way)

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It should be noted I don't actually love UC, but I love this rivalry.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Like most Xavier fans, and probably fewer UC fans year by year, I love the Crosstown Shootout. I love the hype leading up to it, I love watching the old highlights recycled every year like a fond holiday tradition- familiar, and yet somehow more enjoyable as each year goes by, I love the absolutely raucous atmosphere in whichever venue hosts the game, I simply love everything about it. There are many rivalries that claim to be the best in college basketball, a claim spouted by fanbases from the Duke-UNC tilt on the east coast, to Kentucky-Louisville in the midwest all the way to UCLA-Arizona out west, but none of them can claim the top spot with any validity while this rivalry still exists.

This isn't like those games. This is not a twice yearly, conference mandated meeting. It's certainly not Kentucky-Louisville, where the most basketball illiterate (and probably just regular illiterate) fanbase in America cranks up the whining to outdo the only other fanbase that can match them for misguided self-importance. This isn't Duke-UNC, where the ESPN hype machine bloviates for weeks before and after the ACC heavyweights clash, only for the players who come put to spew rosy anecdotes about the respect and admiration they have for the other side. There was Duke alum Jay Bilas extolling the virtues of UNC during the Final Four last season as they fell in the finals, eulogized caringly by their former foe. A quick glance at twitter a few weeks earlier as UC and Xavier's seasons both ended in heartwrenching fashion showed no such sentiment here.

This is a game between two perennially nationally relevant teams duking it out for supremacy over a city. Not a conference, not a region, not even a state. The fans don't cheer for the other team when the two aren't playing. As a matter of fact, they don't even ignore each other, they actively root against each other. We hate them, they hate us. What makes this game great is that I like to see UC lose almost as much as I like to see X win, and it is the same on the other side. Just how I love it.