#16 seed DePaul Blue Demons vs. #9 seed UConn Huskies – Tuesday, March 8th, 11:00 p.m. Central – Madison Square Garden, New York City
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After being obliterated by Syracuse on Saturday 107-59, just how much gas will #16 seed DePaul (7-23, 1-17 in the Big East) have left to battle yet another NCAA Tournament worthy team in #9 seed Connecticut (21-9, 9-9) on Tuesday afternoon?
Well, with Cleveland Melvin out of the lineup for the Blue Demons, and with Connecticut (ranked 16th last week in both polls) playing for seeding in the upcoming NCAA tournament, this opening game match-up of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden has all the makings of another mismatch.
Connecticut is coming off a hard-fought loss at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 70-67 on Saturday. The Huskies are losers of four out of their last five, but with so much on the line, expect the Huskies to try and put their foot on the gas and get out early on the Demons with hopes of demoralizing them.
This game will mark the second time the Huskies and Demons have squared off against each other this year. On January 15th Connecticut had their way with the Demons in an easy 82-62 rout at Allstate Arena.
So, for a Huskie team that has not won a Big East Tournament game in five years, the reeling Blue Demons seem to be the perfect antidote for Connecticut to get off the schneid.
As they had a hard time containing him in the first meeting, DePaul will once again have their hands full trying to stop All-Big East First Team member Kemba Walker. Walker, who had 31 points in the first meeting, is one of the most prolific scorers in the country and is very difficult to defend. Walker was second in the Big East in scoring (23.1 ppg).
Just like the Demons, the Huskies also have exciting freshmen they rely on. On Sunday, both Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb were named to the All-Big East Rookie Team (as did Melvin and Brandon Young).
But, the difference between the Demons and the Huskies goes way beyond the freshmen, as the Huskies get great production from Walker and other important players such as Alex Oriakhi (who is second in the Big East in rebounding with 8.3 a game).
While this game could prove to be a great learning tool for DePaul's young players, the timing doesn't seem right for an upset. DePaul is a beaten down and injured bunch.
Then again, who thought DePaul had a chance two years ago when the Demons shocked the country and beat Cincinnati in the opening round after going winless in the Big East?
Stranger things have happened.
The Last Time
On January 15th, UConn came into Allstate Arena ranked 10th in the nation.
The Huskies lived up to their billing as they left with a 82-62 win over the Blue Demons.
The Huskies were once again led by Kemba Walker who led all scorers with 31 points on 10 of 17 shooting from the floor.
Freshman guard Jeremy Lamb contributed with 13 points and sophomore Alex Oriakhi added 11 in the winning effort for the Huskies.
DePaul was led by freshman Cleveland Melvin who recorded his first career double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds.
The only other player to reach double figures for the Blue Demons was freshman Moses Morgan. It was a breakout game for the young freshman. In 16 minutes, Morgan scored an efficient 11 points on four of seven shooting, including three of five from beyond the arc.
NO NAME HT/WT POSITION YR/CLASS HOMETOWN
21 Kyle Bailey 6-3/170 Guard SR Lancaster, N.H.
2 Donnell Beverly 6-4/190 Guard SR Los Angeles, Calif.
25 Michael Bradley 6-10/235 Center/Forward FR Chattanooga, Tenn.
4 Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 6-7/210 Forward SO Dorchester, Mass.
5 Niels Giffey 6-7/210 Guard/Forward FR Berlin, Germany
3 Jeremy Lamb 6-5/185 Guard/Forward FR Norcross, Ga.
13 Shabazz Napier 6-0/170 Guard FR Randolph, Mass.
35 Charles Okwandu 7-0/255 Center SR Lagos, Nigeria
10 Tyler Olander 6-9/225 Forward FR Mansfield, Conn.
34 Alex Oriakhi 6-9/240 Forward/Center SO Lowell, Mass.
22 Roscoe Smith 6-8/205 Forward FR Baltimore, Md.
23 Benjamin Stewart 6-5/205 Forward JR Denver, Colo.
15 Kemba Walker 6-1/172 Guard JR Bronx, N.Y.
1 Enosch Wolf 7-1/260 Center FR Goettingen, Germany
DePaul vs. Connecticut Game Preview
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