The Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers first played a college basketball game in 1928, with the Bearcats holding an all-time advantage of 49-34 against their rival in what has become known as the Crosstown Shootout, which will renew on Thursday night at (7 p.m., ESPN2) at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.
Thursday's game, however, is a rarity in the nearly 90-yard-old series as only the third time that both teams are ranked entering the game. The Musketeers have knocked off the Bearcats in the previous two occasions, as Xavier defeated Cincy by 10 last season -- 65-55 -- and by six in the 1993-94 season.
Beating No. 19 Cincinnati on Thursday, however, will be a difficult task for No. 24 Xavier, as the Bearcats enter on a 19-game winning streak at home, among the best in the nation. Cincinnati is 11-0 at home this season.
The Bearcats (17-2) are the top team in the American Athletic Conference and project as one of the two teams from the league in Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology. The Bearcats' strength remains their defensive identity under Mick Cronin, as they rank fifth in the nation in defensive efficiency, per ESPN's Basketball Power Index.
Xavier (14-5) has won the last three games between the two teams and will be looking for its first four-game winning streak in series history. The Musketeers remain one of the top defensive-rebounding teams in the nation and are allowing only 6.6 second-chance points per game this season, the lowest total in major college basketball in the last five seasons.
Thursday's game will also be the last rivalry game before Fifth Third Arena undergoes an $87 million dollar refurbishment, scheduled to be completed for the 2018-2019 season.