The downtown exile of one of college basketball's best rivalries is over.
The annual matchup between Cincinnati and Xavier will return to campus sites beginning next year and will go back to formally being known as the Crosstown Shootout. As part of the fallout from the ugly brawl that forced referees to end the 2011 matchup early, the schools played on a neutral court in downtown Cincinnati the past two seasons and referred to the rivalry game as the Crosstown Classic.
The decision to temporarily move the rivalry off campus was unpopular as soon as Xavier and Cincinnati officials made the announcement in May 2012, but the two schools had good reason to make that move. They did not want the rivalry to go on hiatus yet they had to do something to show they recognized the severity of the previous year's ugly brawl that led to the suspension of eight players.
At the time of that announcement, Xavier and Cincinnati promised to reevaluate the decision to move the game after two years if no further incidents took place. Monday's announcement reflects the fact that the two subsequent games were violence-free.
Returning to alternating home games for the next 10 years should boost the rivalry and college basketball because the sport is better when played in front of raucous crowds and revved-up student sections instead of at cavernous, sterile neutral-site arenas.
Such an environment can occasionally incite hostility as it may have during the 2011 game when taunting Xavier fans clearly got under the skin of Cincinnati players. More often than not, however, it's that kind of atmosphere that makes the best college basketball rivalries so much fun.
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