Braggin' Rights: X-Factors in the Annual Battle Between Illinois and Missouri

The Missouri Tigers and Illinois FIghting Illini will do battle on Saturday night in their annual meeting at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Just as any game, there are a lot of underlying factors that could sway things in either team's favor. Here are some of those factors that could play a pivotal role in the outcome of this contest.

Effectiveness on Both Sides of the Ball

A big reason that the Missouri Tigers are 10-0 at this point of the season are their abilities to shoot the basketball and defend as well. Currently, Mizzou ranks in the Top 20 in Effective FG% on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The Tigers are shooting 55.9 percent in Effective FG%, 17th best in the country. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers are limiting teams to an Effective FG% of just 43.0 percent, which has them ranked 16th among Division 1 teams. To put that into perspective, the Division 1 average for Effective FG% is 49.0 percent. It is clear that the Tigers are making the most of their offensive opportunities. This could also be seen in their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, as Missouri is scoring 110.7 points per 100 possessions, 47th best in the land.

What Can Brown Do For You?

Jabari Brown, a former Oregon Duck, is quietly putting together a very good season for the Missouri Tigers. Brown, a junior guard from Oakland, Ca. is scoring 19.0 points per game and collecting 5.5 rebounds per game in an average of 37.2 minutes per game. Delving further, Brown is accumulating 93.0 percent of minutes this season for the Tigers, which is 11th best in the nation. So, not only is Brown performing well, he is also doing so while accounting for a great deal of time while on the floor. Brown's efficiency this season compared to last is also a big reason for his success. His TS% last year as a meager 56.8 percent, but this year that has increased ten fold. Through the first 10 games of the 2013-14 season, the Oakland native has accumulated a TS% of 63.9 percent, which slots him in the Top 120 in the nation (118th).

Locking Down the Floor

The Illinois Fighting Illini boast one of the best defenses in the country. Coach John Groce's club is allowing only 60.36 points per game and just once has a team scored more than 70 points on them this season. That came in the last game that they played against the Oregon Ducks, where the Illini fell 71-64. Diving in deeper, the stats help the Illini even more. Their Adjusted Defensive Efficiency ranks as one of the Top 25 marks in the entire country, as they are limiting teams to just 94.5 points per 100 possessions (24th). Further, much like the Tigers, they are limiting teams to a low Effective FG% as well. The Illini are only yielding an Effective FG% of 44.4 percent, which goes for 34th in the country. Lately, the Illini have been alternating from zone to man, but against a team as efficient as Missouri is, do not be surprised if they stick with man defense in this contest.

Major Contributors Performing Well

Each of the Illini's best players are contributing to the successes of the team this season, and are a big reason why they have gotten off to a great start this season. Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams namely have been two of the brightest of stars for the team located out of Urbana-Champaign. Rice, a junior guard from Champaign, Il. is scoring a team-high 17.7 points per game on a FG% of 49.7 percent. Abrams, meanwhile, ranks second in scoring on the Illini, amounting 11.5 points per game. While Abrams' FG% is significantly lower than Rice's, standing at 35.4 percent on the season, his success is found at the free throw line. The junior guard hailing from Chicago is converting 71.7 percent of his free throws and has gotten to the line often. He boasts a team high 53 free throw attempts, averaging almost five attempts per night.

All in all, Missouri and Illinois should deliver the goods once again this holiday season, as one of the best non-conference rivalries in America gets set to tip off for the 34th time.

A FanPost gives the opinion of the fan who writes it and that fan only. That doesn't give the opinion more or less weight than any other opinion on this blog, but the post does not necessarily reflect the view of TSK's writers.

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