Tigers sophomore thinks Braggin' Rights is one of season's best hoops events.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Ryan Rosburg has been attending the annual Braggin’ Rights game between Illinois and Missouri for as long as he can remember.
“My dad always got tickets, and that was like my Christmas present growing up,” Rosburg said.
On Saturday, the Missouri sophomore forward will participate in the game for the first time when his 23rd-ranked Tigers tangle with the Illini at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Though Rosburg has never played in the game after not seeing action in last year’s game, he’s as familiar with the Braggin’ Rights series as any player who will take the court for either team Saturday. Only three Missouri players — Earnest Ross, Jabari Brown and Tony Criswell — have seen action in the rivalry. On the other side, Joseph Bertrand, Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu are the only Illinois players who have participated.
“You can prepare all you want and think you are ready because I had seen that game so many times in the past, but when you step on that floor and you hear both sides screaming and yelling ‘I-L-L’ and ‘M-I-Z’, you can’t really prepare for that,” said Rosburg, a native of Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. “It kind of just shocks you. It’s an unbelievable atmosphere, and it gets so loud in there and it’s pretty crazy.”
Rosburg’s favorite Braggin’ Rights memory was attending the game in 2011, when older brother Andy was a walk-on member of the Missouri team that beat Illinois.
“I had just signed with Missouri when he was there and we had seats right behind the bench, and it was so cool being that close in that atmosphere,” Rosburg said. “I never really had a side growing up. I guess I was more of a Missouri fan from growing up in the state.”
With the Tigers’ move from the Big 12 to the SEC last year, archrival Kansas is no longer on the Missouri schedule, making the Illinois game one of the season’s highlights.
“The Illinois game has stepped up. I don’t think there’s anything like it in college basketball,” Rosburg said. “We respect all our opponents, but with the environment of this game, it’s hard to not consider them a rival because it’s such a huge game in a huge arena with so many fans; it kind of carries a lot of weight. It’s one of the most underrated rivalries in the country.”