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For years, Illinois and Missouri basketball fans got used to watching the annual Braggin’ Rights game on one of the ESPN networks. But in 2018, BTN carried it for the first time.

This year, the game is being shown by the SEC Network (noon, Saturday), which is part of the ESPN family.

Why the SEC Network?

“With the addition of new and different television platforms, the opportunity for this game to land other places has become greater over the last few years,” said Chris Turner, vice president of programming for ESPN, who oversees the SEC Network. “And also, I think you have to look at the quality of play on an annual basis and what else is out there on the landscape as far as the scheduling process is concerned.”

The SEC Network is thrilled to have it.

“This is an iconic rivalry game going all the way back to Norm Stewart and Lou Henson,” Turner said. “It’s kind of been a marquee holiday game for a number of years.”

The TV destination for the game depends somewhat on how the teams are playing. If both the Illini and Tigers are projected in the Top 25 going into the season, the game will get more national attention.

The TV rights for the game belong to the home team’s conference. This year, Missouri is host, so the SEC Network became a possibility. In 2020, when Illinois hosts, BTN will again be a broadcast option.

“Let’s hope both teams are Top 5 next year and it ends up on ESPN in a prime-time window,” Turner said.

On to my weekend recommendations:


“Celebrating Marvel’s Stan Lee,” 7 p.m., ABC

Clark Gregg, who stars as Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hosts the look back at the life of the comic book icon, who created “Spider-Man,” “Ant-Man,” “Black Panther,” “Iron Man” and so many more.


“Saturday Night Live,” 10:30 p.m., NBC

Former cast member Eddie Murphy returns as host for the first time since 1984. The musical guest is Lizzo.


“The Price Is Right At Night,” 7 p.m., CBS

In a special charity episode, actor/comic Seth Rogen and the cast of “Seal Team” make appearances.

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).