The 53rd meeting in a college basketball tradition affectionately known as “Braggin’ Rights” returns to St. Louis’ Enterprise Center on Thursday night.
That’s when the 16th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini and the 10-1 Missouri Tigers tangle a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River in a game the SEC Network will air live at 8 p.m. Central time.
Illinois leads the all-time series 33-19 and shellacked the Tigers by 25 points in 2021, though Dennis Gates’ Missouri squad is looking to get the upper hand this week.
While no odds on this year’s contest have been released, oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook Illinois list the Illini at +3000 and Missouri at +20000 to win the NCAA championship.
What we can say for sure is there will be no shortage of interest in this year’s showdown on both sides of the river, with oddsmakers and Illinois sportsbook staff expecting big returns Thursday night.
Braggin’ Rights a Big Win for Illinois Bettors
The 2022 edition of the Illinois-Missouri rivalry is the first on which customers can place a wager on the contest — just not on Illinois sports betting apps.
The Illinois legislature, as part of the state’s 2021 gaming update, now allows residents to place wagers on in-state teams, as long as they do so in person at a casino or racetrack sportsbook.
There is no legal sports betting in Missouri, although the state’s legislature will try to address the issue again during the 2023 session.
Thursday’s Braggin’ Rights game has the chance to be an historic one for East St. Louis’ DraftKings Sportsbook Illinois at Casino Queen, which is less than a mile from the Missouri state line and less than a 10-minute drive from the Enterprise Center.
Staff at the East St. Louis facility said they expect above-average turnout for a weekday evening for the Illinois-Missouri contest, though they do not have any promotions or specials in place for the game.
Johnny Avello, who serves as the director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told IllinoisBet.com the Boston-based operator expects Thursday’s contest to generate some buzz.
"It’s the best and last game of the night in college basketball and both teams are playing well,” Avello said. “To support interest, the NBA has a very short slate that evening, so I expect a fair amount of play."
IllinoisBet.com is the place to be for Illinois sportsbook promo codes for the rest of the NFL and NBA seasons.
How Braggin’ Rights Games Have Gone Recently
Illinois and Missouri have traded runs against each other of late, with the Fighting Illini snapping the Tigers’ three-game win streak in the rivalry a year ago.
Before that, Illinois won five straight contests against Missouri, between 2013 and 2017, though all five were decided by single digits.
Since 2000, the Fighting Illini’s largest margin of victory in the Braggin’ Rights game came in 2005, when they routed the Tigers, 82-50.
Last year’s 25-point margin was the second largest in the series this century and the largest since Illinois beat Missouri, 75-59, in 2008.
Conversely, Missouri’s largest margin of victory over their eastern rivals came in 2018, when they romped over Illinois, 79-63.
Thursday’s game will be the first in which either side is ranked in two years, with Illinois losing that contest, 81-78, to an unranked Tigers squad as the No. 6 team in the country.
Red-Hot Teams Enter 2022 Showdown
Both sides of the 2022 edition of Braggin’ Rights enter the contest on a high note, with Missouri’s lone loss coming to sixth-ranked Kansas, while Illinois is 8-3 with wins over eighth-ranked UCLA and No. 2 Texas this year.
Each team won its leadup game to Thursday’s throwdown,. Illinois beat Alabama A&M, 68-47, and Missouri pulled off a two-point win over UCF, 68-66.
One thing that seems certain is the winner Thursday night will be residents of Illinois, who can place wagers on Braggin’ Rights once and for all.