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The Crosstown Shootout Remains in Doubt

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Xavier and UC may not renew the rivalry this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 26 Xavier at Cincinnati Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The best rivalry in college sports is in question this year. Faced with a schedule tightened by a late start, bubbles being part of the vernacular long before March, and the possibility of expanded conference play, the game now hangs in the balance.

Cincinnati.com quoted Coach Travis Steele as saying, "We’re trying to figure it out... We’re in a critical window because we kind of need to know." The problem is that Xavier has to try to figure out which non-conference games it can play in the time frame and what may happen with any conferences bubbling. Obviously, if Xavier is in a Big East bubble and the mid-majors put together a bubble UC lands in, the teams won't break containment to play each other.

Xavier is also still committed to the Orlando Invitational to start the season. That tournament will run until the 29th of November. Xavier also has a game scheduled against Oklahoma on the 9th of December. Complicating things is a report that the Big East is considering bubbling as soon as "mid-December" in order to make certain they get a conference slate fully played and keep the Big East tournament a reality.

That would leave essentially two weeks to fit the Shootout into both team's schedules. There's no question both programs want it to happen, but the logistics are difficult at this point. (The idea of UC having home court advantage but no fans is amusing.) The last calendar year there wasn't a Shootout was 1945, when there were larger things at play. Will the Covid pandemic have the same impact on this game as World War II? The longer it takes, the more likely that becomes.