A change in conferences for Missouri won't change the team's anticipation for its non-conference rivalry game with Illinois.
Raising that anticipation even more is the fact both teams are ranked in the top 15 for the first time in 10 years.
The Illini (12-0) are undefeated under first-year coach John Groce, who is in his first Braggin' Rights game. One of the main challenges he'll face is in situational basketball. Groce's Illini are deep, playing eight players for 10 or more minutes a game. While they have the advantage of depth over most teams they'll play, Missouri plays nine players at the same rate.
Coaching will be a big factor, determining how to match each other with each substitution.
Missouri (9-1) is the nation's second-best rebounding team, grabbing 46.1 boards a game, and have a 13.1 scoring differential. Much of that is bolstered by a front line that averages 6-foot-9, and the Tigers can dominate offensively and defensively in the paint. They're playing in their first season in the SEC, and already are looking to factor into the conference championship.
Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, with TV coverage on ESPN2.