Missouri Tigers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini: Braggin’ Rights 2012 Predictions

Missouri Tigers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, 12/22/12, 6:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Missouri -1.5
Current Betting Line:  Missouri -1.5
Opening Total:  140
Current Total:  142.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Illinois Fighting Illini will try to snap a three-game losing streak to the Missouri Tigers Saturday

For the third consecutive season Missouri and Illinois enter the Bud Light Braggin’ Rights Game nationally ranked, but only one of the teams has won the last three games in this series.  The Tigers haven’t lost to the Fighting Illini since the 2008-09 campaign, as it picked up a 78-74 victory as seven-point favorites in last year’s meeting, while going OVER the posted total of 140.  Missouri is 10-7 ATS on a neutral floor the last two-plus seasons, with the OVER going 12-3 in that situation.

The Tigers rank first nationally in grabbing 46.1 rebounds per game, while sitting fourth in rebounding margin (+13.3).  Missouri has three starters averaging in double figures, with senior forward Laurence Bowers leading the way, scoring 16.3 points and grabbing 6.4 rebounds per game.  The program has won 24 consecutive games in the month of December, while head coach Frank Haith has captured seven of nine games on a neutral floor during his time on campus.

Illinois has won 13 of 18 games in this series when playing as a ranked team, while owning a 20-11 overall advantage over one of its fiercest rivals when playing in St. Louis.  The Fighting Illini are coming off a 66-53 victory over Eastern Kentucky as 14.5-point home favorites, while going UNDER the posted total of 133.5.  First-year head coach John Groce knows the importance of this game and what his team needs to do to remain undefeated.  “The biggest thing is rebounding,” stated Groce this week.  Illinois is 5-9 ATS on a neutral floor since 2010, which can’t be ignored when making your college basketball picks against the spread.

With 12 victories, the Fighting Illini have the most wins in Division I college basketball as of Dec. 18, which is an impressive feat with a new leader on the sidelines.  Illinois is led by one of the more complete players in the country, with Brandon Paul averaging 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists.  He joined by two other guards to account for 54.4 percent of the team’s scoring this year.

Sports bettors will likely play the total in this affair, as the OVER is 17-5 when the Fighting Illini tip off as an underdog over the last two-plus seasons.

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