Illinois basketball suits up on Friday night to take on the Missouri Tigers in the annual Braggin' Rights game.
This game hasn't gone in favor of the Illini too much in the past half-decade. Illinois has only won once in the last five chances, but the Orange and Blue are looking to buck that trend this time around.
Missouri has a decent team, but they are very beatable. They put up a good fight against some good teams in the past week, but the Illini are ready to take back the Braggin' Rights trophy.
Here are five big questions for the Illinois basketball team against Missouri
1. Does the Illinois defense show up against Missouri?
Even when the Illinois basketball team has a hard time scoring the basketball, we always find a way to keep the game close. That has a lot to do with the great defense Brad Underwood’s unit plays.
Illinois has been playing some spectacular defense in 2023-24. We have only given up an average of 64.2 points per game, which ranks No. 28 in the nation. But Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game is always a different animal.
Last season, Illinois gave up 93 points in a 22-point loss to the Tigers. So, this time around, does the Illinois defense show up against Missouri?
In that loss to the Tigers in 2022-23, Illinois allowed Missouri to do pretty much whatever they wanted. The Tigers shot 64.1% from the field and 50% from three-point range. Despite some of the players returning, this is a different Illinois team defensively.
The Illini are allowing opponents to shoot 29.2% from three-point range this season, which ranks No. 38 in the country. I also think our length will give the Tigers some trouble.
Missouri is pretty guard-heavy, so they will rely on them for point production. With Illinois’ smallest starter at 6-foot-6, I would imagine Missouri has a hard time getting too many clean looks. I think our length will give them some problems. Illinois’ defense needs to show up, and I believe they will.