CBS 2 Chicago wbbm7801059 670 The Score

Latest

Wisch: It Doesn’t Get Better Than Braggin’ Rights

View Comments
Brandon Paul  drives to the basket against Phil Pressey of the Missouri Tigers during the Bud Light Braggin' Rights Game. (Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Brandon Paul drives to the basket against Phil Pressey of the Missouri Tigers during the Bud Light Braggin’ Rights Game. (Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Dave Wischnowsky Dave Wischnowsky
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in...
Read More
Don't Miss This

Sports Fan Insider

Keep up with your favorite teams and athletes with daily updates.
Sign Up

By Dave Wischnowsky –

(CBS) A few years ago, when rumors were swirling about Missouri potentially jumping from the Big 12 to Jim Delany’s favorite league, there was one B1G reason why I didn’t want it to happen.

Braggin’ Rights.

In many ways, of course, Mizzou made perfect geographic and competitive sense for the Big Ten – certainly much more than Rutgers and Maryland. However, as a longtime lover of the annual Christmastime clash between the Illini and Tigers down in St. Louis, the last thing I wanted to see was college basketball’s most electric nonconference match-up to turn into two run-of-the-mill conference ones.

Call me selfish, if you will. But, either way, you could certainly call me relieved when Mizzou-to-the-Big-Ten didn’t happen. And at 4:30 p.m. today, you’ll also be able to call me excited when I’m in the stands at the Scottrade Center for my first Braggin’ Rights game since attending back-to-back battles in 2001 and 2002.

At that time, Ilinois was in Years 2 and 3 of what would become a nine-year winning streak over Missouri, with the No. 9 Illini topping the No. 8 Tigers 72-61 in ’01 and No. 12 Illinois whipping No. 11 Mizzou 85-70 in 2002.

Those were the days. These, however, are not for Illini Nation with Mizzou currently enjoying a four-year winning streak of its own, something that John Groce’s Illini (9-2) will be hoping to snap (10-0) starting at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2. As you prep for the big game, I thought I’d share a few of my greatest memories from Braggin’ Rights past.

Best Game: In 1988, the No. 5 Flyin’ Ilini fell far behind No. 10 Missouri late in the first half before the explosive Kenny Battle sparked a furious comeback that eventually led to an epic 87-84 Illinois victory and helped set the early stage for the team’s eventual Final Four run.

Worst Game: Perhaps it would be best to call it the “most painful” since, as games go, it was actually a great one. Either way, the contest I refer to is the 1993 clash during which exhausted Illini freshman Kiwane Garris – an 80 percent free throw shooter – famously missed two foul shots with no time left in the second overtime. With new life, Mizzou then went on to win 108-107 in triple OT.

Favorite Coach to Beat: Quin Snyder, of course. Hair ye, hair ye.

Favorite Player to Watch: Loved Kenny. Adored Kiwane. And reveled in seeing Dee. But my favorite Illini to watch compete in Braggin’ Rights was, without a doubt, Frank Williams. Most memorably, in that aforementioned 2001 game, Frankie poured in 16 of his 22 points in the second half, including a stretch of four consecutive field goals to power Illinois to victory. During that run, I still recall Illini fans around me shouting, “We’re winning because we have Frankie Williams, and you don’t!”

Favorite Venue: Since 1994, Braggin’ Rights has always been played in the same building, of course. But, amusingly, it’s had three different names in just 19 years: Savvis Center, Kiel Center and these days, Scottrade. I think I liked Kiel the best.

Favorite Benefit: Christmas is better with a Braggin’ Rights win. It just is. And here’s to hoping for plenty of cheer this year. After all, Missouri fans are due for some coal in their stockings.

View Comments