It’s a neutral site game in the December 21st Illinois vs. Missouri free pick as the two squads meet up in St. Louis for the Braggin’ Rights game. 4 hours separate these two schools with St. Louis being a perfect mid-way meeting point for this non-conference rivalry game. MIzzu dominated this game last year, winning by 16 points but the Illini are -3.5 favorites with their revamped 2019/20 team.
Does Illinois Have Too Much on Offense?
Missouri’s calling card is their defense, giving up 57.9 ppg which is the 15th best scoring rate in the country. Illinois doesn’t run at the pace they did the last two seasons, but still has a very deep scoring offense and now a post game to go with it.
Missouri dominated last year’s matchup 63-79 mostly by outscoring Illinois by 12 in the paint – although the Tigers were also red hot from three shooting 11-21. The Illini have a new face in the post this season in one of the most dynamic young big men in the country in 7-footer Kofi Cockburn. The Oak Hill Academy product is averaging 15.4/10.5 per and has led Illinois to the #1 rebounding percentage mark in the country at 59.7%.
The Illini are far from a one-man team on offense where Ayo Dosunmo is averaging 14.8 ppg and like Cockburn is a fellow NBA prospect. Andres Feliz puts up 13.5 ppg just off the bench as well and Trent Frazier has posted 22 and 28 points in the first two Braggin’ Rights games of his career. Illinois has a 1-point loss and a 9 point win vs. former top 5 teams in Maryland and Michigan over thier last 3 games. This is a team playing with confidence ahead of the December 1st NCAAB Illinois vs. Missouri free pick.
Can Missouri Win This on Defense Alone?
The Tigers are led by a familiar face in former Illinois player Mark Smith. The Edwardsville, IL native is the Tigers leading scorer this season but with just 12.5 ppg. Illinois has a player coming off their bench averaging 13.5. Despite scoring just 66.2 ppg, MIzzu has still posted a decent 6-4 record on the season.
Overall there’s just really not a whole lot that impresses you about MIssouri. Their signature win this year is a 10 point victory at Temple two weeks ago as +2.5 underdogs. They’ve lost to Butler and Oklahoma during the Hall of Fame Classic – a ‘neutral site’ tournament but one held under 2 hours away in Kansas City. The Tigers followed up those disappointing performances with an 8-point home loss to Charleston Southern, as 26 point favorites.
The Tigers haven’t scored over 66 points in any of their last six games. Can they slow the pace and drive Brad Underwood’s team insane in the December 1st NCAAB Illinois vs. Missouri free pick? The total is set at just 129 which leads you to believe the Tigers’ strategy is to pull out a 66-63 type game.
December 21st Illinois vs. Missouri Free Pick
Illinois’ offense gets a lot of hype as a top 25 scoring force in the country that ranks 15th in field goal percentage. It’s been the Illini defense that has stepped up lately though, holding opponents to 56,62, and 58 points in the last three games. Two of those were against top 5 teams as well. Missouri already struggles to score and things won’t be any easier Saturday afternoon. The Tigers defense is good – but not THAT good.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -3.5