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Tigers and Fighting Illini workout at Scottrade Friday

9:47 AM, Dec 22, 2012   |    comments
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(KSDK Sports) -- Every weekend, our colleague at USA Today Sports, Scott Gleeson, takes a look at the best matchups in college basketball.  This week, he offers his top 5 games, and Saturday's annual "Braggin Rights" game between the universtities of Missouri and Illinois is included.  Tipoff in St. Louis is at 5 p.m.

Here is Scott's preview.

About the Illini (12-0): Illinois cracked the top 10 last week after a pivotal road win at Gonzaga. Now, the Illini will get another chance to win a big road test. First-year coach John Groce has found a way to motivate a team that lost 12 of its final 14 games last season. Brandon Paul has established himself as one of the best guards in the country, evidenced by his 35-point outburst against Gonzaga. Illinois has other options in the backcourt, but its interior experience and lack of size could be exposed soon.

About the Tigers (9-1): Missouri has lost only to Louisville, but it doesn't have any wins against top teams. The Tigers could get that by beating a strong Illinois team. Frank Haith's team isn't as talented as last season, but this group has meshed to start the season strong. Transfer Alex Oriakhi has settled in nicely, averaging 10.6 points, while big man Laurence Bowers and guard Phil Pressey have put the team on their shoulders.

The matchup: The Arch Rivalry is always intense, but this year it's even more hyped because of both teams' fast starts. Illinois has been shooting well from the perimeter, but will the Illini be able to win when shots aren't falling by getting stops and taking the ball to the basket? We could find out Saturday.

Our pick: Illinois

 

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