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Illini basketball preview: Braggin’ Rights vs. Mizzou

Illinois vs. Missouri — Braggin’ Rights Game
6 pm in St. Louis, MO

Illinois is on a five-game win streak and has won the last three Braggin’ Rights games. Missouri is hot garbage this year, with losses to North Carolina Central and Eastern Illinois on its 5-5 record. This is important context for the game but it could also be worthless information, because Braggin’ Rights is its own beast.

Previous results, momentum, skill — all those things seem to level out for the Braggin’ Rights game. Last season was atrocious for Illinois (15-19), but the team stepped up to get the win over Mizzou; likewise, in 2008 the Illini were coming off a 16-19 season the year before, but still managed to put it to #25 Missouri (a team that went on to win 31 games). IT cuts the other way, too (though less often), such as when the 1999 Tigers, a team that finished with just 18 wins, beat #15 Illinois (who finished 22-10 and #21).

This year, it’s hard to expect much resistance from the Tigers, who are lower in the KenPom ratings than Central Michigan and IUPUI. But Mizzou is also averaging more rebounds, more steals, fewer turnovers, and more free throws made per game than the Illini. So, again, hedge those bets and just hope for another entertaining contest, like this one: 

My prediction: Illini cruise and Malcolm Hill shines for his hometown fans.

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