Illinois vs. Missouri Odds, Picks, Predictions: Don’t Worry About Big Spread, Bet Illini (Wednesday, Dec. 22)
Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kofi Cockburn (Illinois)
- Illinois is a huge favorite on Wednesday night against Missouri.
- While the Illini have thrived offensively this season, the Tigers enter with one of the worst defenses in college basketball.
- Keg taps into this matchup and delivers his pick for bettors below.
Illinois vs. Missouri Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The 41st Braggin’ Rights game returns to St. Louis on Wednesday night, as Missouri will square off against Illinois after a year in which the two had to face off at Mizzou.
For those of you who don’t know, Braggin’ Rights is the annual meeting between the two teams that takes place in St. Louis and has been played every year since 1983. The winning team’s name is engraved on a trophy that, unlike other college rivalry trophies, does not travel home with the winning team.
Instead, it’s displayed in the Enterprise Center, where it occupies either an orange-and-blue or black-and-gold space in the cabinet — depending on who won. The other side has a space that reads “THE TROPHY BELONGS HERE NEXT YEAR.”
Illinois currently leads the series 32-19. However, Missouri is on a three-game win streak, with a chance to win four straight — something that’s only happened twice before in the series’ history.
But with Illinois looking dominant as of late, do the Tigers even have a chance? Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams are the only two players on the team who have won a Braggin’ Rights game, when they did it their freshman year. Ending their college careers the way they started would be pretty special for the two.
The Fighting Illini are still in the midst of an up-and-down season. Currently sitting at 8-3, it has been anything but easy for Brad Underwood’s unit.
But before they fell to one of the best teams in the country in Arizona, they were establishing some ground. They reeled off four wins in a row against Kansas State, UT Rio Grande Valley, Notre Dame and Rutgers, all of which were decided by eight or more points.
While they are coming off of a blowout 106-48 win over St. Francis (PA), that was more of a tune-up game for the Illini.
The offense has been one of the best in the country, as it is currently ranked 13th, per KenPom. They rank 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency, while also being 20th in effective field goal percentage.
Illinois has been able to find ways to win via all areas of the court, hitting shots from outside the arc at 39%, while also being the second-best team in the country in offensive rebounds.
While the Illinois offense has excelled, the same can’t be said for the defense, which has allowed opponents to average 65.8 points per game and has struggled to defend from deep.
Around the basket, Illinois has been one of the best, limiting the opposition to a shooting percentage of 42%. But from deep, the Illini allow opponents to shoot 32.9%.
Missouri isn’t a good 3-point shooting team — it is actually one of the worst in the country. But if the Tigers were to get hot — as they did against SMU — things could get dicey for the Fighting Illini.
Missouri enters the Braggin’ Rights game coming off of a come-from-behind win against Utah. During that game, Utah held the lead almost the entire way until the end when Kobe Brown pulled the Tigers in front. Brown had a career-high 27 points against the Utes, as he led the Tigers to an 83-75 win.
But there’s an obvious issue for the Tigers as they square off against the Illini. Missouri has been one of the worst teams in the country at defending the 3. It ranks 315th, as opponents have connected on 37.7% of their shots from outside the arc on average.
To give you an idea, Illinois averages 39% from 3 and Kansas shoots 37.4%. Kansas beat Missouri 102-65. Now, of course, that wasn’t entirely due to the 3-point shot, but it absolutely played a factor, one I expect to be present in the Tigers’ game against Illinois.
Illinois vs. Missouri Betting Pick
Rivalry games are always close, and Missouri has dominated this one as of recently. But I just can’t look past how much the Tigers have struggled not only against the 3, but against good teams.
Against Florida State and Kansas — the two squads they have played inside the top 40 — they lost by a combined 60 points.
I think that continues here against a strong Illinois team that is finding its stride. The game will also be on a neutral court, and I have no problem laying the 14 points.
The Fighting Illini can win this game in a rout, and I would feel comfortable backing the Illini as high as a 16-point favorite.
Pick: Illinois -16 or better