Illinois Visits Missouri Saturday In Annual Rivalry Game

By: Willie Bee | Thursday, December 20, 2012

Illinois Fighting Illini at Missouri Tigers
College Basketball Betting Preview
12/22/2012 at 6:00 p.m. (ET)
Opening Lines: Missouri -1½, O/U 140
(click for latest college basketball odds)
Television: ESPN2

Illinois Fighting Illini: Coach John Groce's first season at the helm in Champaign is moving along splendidly. The Illini (12-0 straight-up, 5-4 against the spread) have gone from unranked in the preseason to No. 10 in the latest polls, and they remain one of eight unbeaten teams heading into Saturday's contest. Illinois hasn't played the toughest of schedules with victories over Butler in the Maui Invitational finals and at Gonzaga a couple of weeks ago the toughest tests. Since the win over the Zags, the Illini have put forth a couple of fairly lackluster efforts vs. Norfolk State and Eastern Kentucky. The poor shooting against Norfolk could've been the result of a letdown after Gonzaga, but the Illini were once again off from long-range vs. EKU, and committed 20 turnovers for the second time this season. Brandon Paul leads the team in scoring (18.8 points per game), rebounding (5.1 per game) and assists (3.5 per game), with DJ Richardson (11.5 ppg) and Tracy Adams (11.5) also scoring in double digits.

Missouri Tigers: Coach Frank Haith and the No. 12 Tigers (9-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) have reeled off five consecutive wins since getting walloped by Louisville in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The latest came in an unlined affair vs. South Carolina State on Monday when Missouri pasted a 102-51 whipping on the Bulldogs. That contest marked Jabari Brown's season debut for Mizzou after sitting out the team's first nine games following his transfer from Oregon. Brown was one of five Tigers in double figures with 12 points, and Haith was able to rest most of his starters in the laugher. Missouri ranks 13th in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot just 35.8 percent from the field, and they're keeping other teams from having too many second chances with 46.1 rebounds per contest, second in the country. Laurence Bowers leads four Tigers averaging double digits on the scoring end with 16.3 ppg. Phil Pressey is next with 12.3 ppg while also quarterbacking the offense with 5.8 apg.

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