by Zach Garcia
The Missouri Tigers announced today they will continue their hoops rivalry with the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Braggin’ Rights Game in St. Louis through the 2017 season. Representatives from the two schools, as well as from the Scottrade Center and Anheuser-Busch, announced an extension of the annual game.
This year’s game, sponsored by Bud Light, is scheduled for Saturday, December 22 at 5 p.m. at the Scottrade Center. The game will air live on ESPN2.
Facing the Illini on the court is nothing new for Missouri, despite the schools having never competed in the same athletic conference. The two have squared off in 31 of the past 32 seasons in St. Louis, with the first Braggin’ Rights Game taking place in 1980.
Illinois owns a 20-11 advantage in the series, but Missouri has come away from St. Louis with a victory in each of the past three meetings. Last season, the Tigers battled to a 78-74 win over the then-No. 24 Illini to stay undefeated through 12 games of their schedule.
Missouri coach Frank Haith will be at the helm for his second Braggin’ Rights Game.
“There is nothing like this game in all of college basketball,” Haith said. “The fan bases are split down the middle and the enthusiasm is second to none. You add in a national television audience and the excitement of the holiday season and you get the best rivalry game of the non-league season.”
This is John Groce’s first season as the coach for Illinois. He spent four seasons at Ohio, including taking the team to the Sweet 16 in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
“I’ve heard about the importance of the Illinois-Missouri game since the day I took the job here at the University of Illinois,” Groce said. “I’m excited about experiencing this rivalry for the first time, and that we are extending the contract so the Braggin’ Rights game will continue for many years.”
Missouri opens its schedule on Nov. 10 vs. Southern Illinois Edwardsville.
Information from MU Athletics was used in this report.