Game: Cincinnati at Xavier, Dec. 10
Most Affected: Both
Everyone has seen it by now, so there’s no need to describe the end-of-game fight between the two schools. However, the fallout from the fight seemed to have opposite effects for the two teams from Cincinnati.
Both teams suspended some of their most important players—Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates missed six games; Xavier’s Tu Holloway missed one, Mark Lyons missed two and Dez Wells missed five.
Given the fact Gates—Cincinnati’s go-to guy down low—missed more time than any of Xavier’s key guards, you would have though the Bearcats would have been the team who suffered in the games following the Dec. 10 incident. Instead, Cincinnati rallied and played better afterward than it had played before the Xavier game.
Cincinnati went on to win games against Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Georgetown—all on the road. Those wins made Cincinnati a borderline-Top 25 team before losing to West Virginia and Syracuse. Now at 8-5 in the Big East, the Bearcats appear to be in pretty good shape to earn an NCAA tournament berth because of the wins mentioned above.
Xavier, meanwhile, went into a major slump immediately following the win over Cincinnati. Playing the first game after without Holloway, Lyons and Wells, Xavier was blown out at home by Oral Roberts. The Musketeers then went to Hawaii and struggled in the Diamond Head Classic, losing to Long Beach State (without Lyons and Wells) and the University of Hawaii (without Wells).
Xavier is just 8-9 since Dec. 10, putting the Musketeers currently at 16-9 overall and 7-4 in the Atlantic 10. Losing five of its first seven games after the fight, Xavier went from a Top 10 and undefeated team all the way down to an NCAA bubble team.
While the fight itself certainly produced no winners, there is a pretty clear distinction as to which team better handled the adversity and negative publicity that resulted from the incident.