Welp, here goes nothing. A hot Illinois team and a down-as-ever Mizzou team meet tonight at Scottrade Center. It’s been relegated to 6pm CT on ESPNU.
Whatever happens, the rivalry game doesn’t figure to recapture the buzz of its storied history. Since moving to Scottrade Center for the 1994 showdown, the Missouri-Illinois game has produced crowds of at least 20,000 all but three times, but attendance fell off by more than 5,000 for last year’s game at 14,456, the smallest crowd to watch the game at Scottrade. KTVI reported only 12,000 tickets were sold as of Tuesday. Considering the steep price of tickets and the small crowds at Mizzou Arena this season, Wednesday’s game figures to be a similarly sparse gathering, at least on the MU side. The cheapest price for upper-level seats in the mezzanine is $47. As of Tuesday, the lowest priced tickets on secondary market outlets were going for $70.
Illinois is led by 6-foot-6-inch, 225-pound senior Malcolm Hill, who averages 18.2 points per game. Hill scored 40 points in Illinois' win over Northern Kentucky on Nov. 13.
Although he did not start on Saturday, newcomer, 6-foot-7-inch, 215 pound Jordan Barnett figures to be matched up against Hill as the two are similar in size. Barnett scored three points and grabbed five rebounds Saturday in his Missouri debut.
I do enjoy Kim Anderson’s honesty, by the way. I just hate that he has to be honest in this tone so much.
“We’ve made some really dumb plays, and we can’t make those plays,” Anderson said. “We can’t give away that many possessions. You can blame it on youth. You can blame it on whatever, but the bottom line is it doesn’t matter how old you are. You’ve got to know you can’t make plays like that.”
Sam has a preview coming later today, but the basics: Illinois heads into the game 66th in KenPom; by my eye, that’s the Illini’s best rankings since the beginning of last season. They started 4-0, lost three in a row (two to good WVU and Florida State teams by a combined 43), then won five in a row, taking down decent NC State, VCU, and BYU squads. Pomeroy gives them a 75% chance of winning, and by an average of about seven points.
The silver lining: Illinois was projected to win by healthier margins than they actually did the last two years against Mizzou. For all of Anderson’s issues, his team has played pretty well in this game. So ... maybe?
- Football got another commitment last night! We just don’t know who it was.
Linebacker commit Jamal Brooks is the unofficial recruiting director for the class and is ridiculously plugged in, so he’s probably not making stuff up. Since Mizzou has been hard after two recent decommits — cornerback Adam Sparks (formerly tied to Vandy) and tackle Caleb Sampson (Tulane) — one would assume the odds are good that it’s one of them. But we’ll see.
- A three-star Virginia commit is evidently considering a Mizzou visit in January, perhaps as the player-to-be-named-later in the Marvin Zanders deal.
- Mizzou Wrestling beat Kent State and No. 21 Appalachian State yesterday by a combined 57-18, but apparently this wasn’t good enough. There were some upsets in the App State dual that didn’t sit well with either head coach or star J’den Cox.