The Missouri Tigers hadn't beaten rival Illinois since 1999, losing games in which they've been favored as well as those they weren't expected to win. Wednesday's game was more of a toss-up with a slight edge going to Bruce Weber's team, who had already won at Clemson thus far. But the Tigers were able to control the flow of play, forcing 22 Illinois turnovers on their way to an 81-68 win. While Illinois outrebounded the Tigers 44-32 and all five starters reached double figures Missouri forced 22 turnovers and held the Illini to 39.7% shooting from the field.
It may not feel like it to the respective conferences, but it has been over six years since the ACC raided the Big East, taking with them Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College to reach the mandatory 12 team minimum for a conference football championship game. The Big East, caught flat-footed by the move, promptly raided Conference USA, which in turn raided the Western Athletic Conference, which then invaded the Sun Belt Conference – leading to one of the most dramatic re-alignments in college sports since the expansion of the “major” conferences themselves in the early 90’s.
Ranking players is more art then science. How do you compare the potential of freshmen with seniors who have already peaked? How much does physical talent come into play versus intangibles and experience? How big a role do numbers play?