The Skyline Chili Curse

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Two of the more intriguing Final Four contenders in this year’s NCAA Tournament hail from the Queen City: the Cincinnati Bearcats, and the Xavier Musketeers. Both are consistently excellent programs, but they have a clear Achilles’ heel: Skyline Chili.

Regional delicacies are often divisive. Friendships falter over Chicago deep dish pizza, families refuse to spend Thanksgiving together because of St. Louis toasted ravioli. But no regional food seems to sparky as much ire as Cincinnati’s Skyline Chili.

Confession: I have never had Skyline Chili. After seeing the above photo, tweeted during First Round play Thursday from the WCPO ABC 9 account, I will never try it. However, I am taking my utter disdain for this dish a step further: Skyline Chili should make you reconsider Cincinnati or Xavier in your bracket.

This isn’t logical fallacy nor conspiracy theory, as I’ve done some research. Cincinnati won a pair of national championships in 1961 and 1962, then played for a third against Loyola Chicago in 1963. The Bearcats have not been back to the national title game since, and played in the Final Four just once, 1992.

Research finds the Bearcats’ national championship drought coincides directly with the expansion of Skyline Chili restaurants.

Xavier basketball’s history is not quite as rich as that of crosstown rival Cincinnati, though the Musketeers rank among the most consistent programs of the past quarter-century. From Pete Gillen, to the late Skip Prosser, to Thad Matta, to Sean Miller and now Chris Mack, Xavier’s had a string of very good coaches. All experienced NCAA Tournament success.

Yet, despite three of the five coaching teams to the Elite Eight, Xavier has never broken through to the Final Four. Mack joined Matta and Miller in reaching an Elite Eight game a season ago — and he did so at Miller’s expense. Arizona’s inability to get to the Final Four during Miller’s tenure, which includes three losses in the Elite Eight, suggests that the Skyline Chili Curse travels.

Am I definitively saying the Skyline Chili Curse is real? I’m not not saying that! Skyline Chili owns sponsorship rights to the annual UC-XU rivalry game, which makes you think. Look, I’m just asking questions, people!

Need more evidence? If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about conspiring, it’s Roger Goodell.

Connect the dots, sheeple.