Like everyone else associated with the Braggin Rights Game....I ALWAYS look forward to the pre-Christmas matchup between Illinois and Missouri in St.Louis. After years of watching on television (Dave Shaul broadcast the first matchup) or listening on the radio (Jim Turpin and Loren Tate) as a teenager and young adult.... I was captivated by the sound of the intensity of the atmosphere inside the building (Checkerdome or Scottrade Center-doesnt matter). One or both of the teams were usually ranked...and the series has produced some instant classics.
Growing up just south of Champaign....I never dreamed I personally would be able to attend the Braggin Rights Game....much less have a front row seat broadcasting the game all over the state of Illinois. As it turns out....I have now done play- by- play for about a dozen of these games in this remarkable series....and it never gets old. It is truly one of the great sporting events every year.
And for a play by play guy....the excitement and anticipation for the game is unmatched.
The Illini have roared out to a surprising 12-0 start and are ranked 10th in the nation. Mizzou is a not-so-surprising 9-1 and ranked 12th. Missouri had a 30-win season last year that crash-landed in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a loss to Norfolk State. The Illini 2011-2012 season ended in a discouraging downward spiral and the eventual changing of the guard in the coaching staff.
There is always a fun storyline going into this game every year...and more often than not....an ending that leaves everyone around college basketball talking.....and Illini and Mizzou fans looking forward to doing it all over again next season.
Talk to you from St. Louis Saturday night at 5 pm!