The Blue Demons will be watching the second game between Georgetown and Xavier with more than casual interest, however, as the winner will be DePaul's quarterfinal opponent Sunday night at 6:00 CST at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL.
But to DePaul coach Doug Bruno and his team, basketball is basketball, no matter where it is played. "Like Norman Dale says in the movie Hoosiers, the basket is ten feet high and the floor is 94 x 50," said Bruno.
DePaul enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed, but it is a tournament that Bruno believes is winnable by any of the ten teams.
DePaul (24-6, 15-3 Big East, No. 1 seed)
The Blue Demons are 8-0 in Big East first round games and 0-8 in second round games. DePaul has never faced Georgetown or Xavier in the Big East Tournament. Senior Jasmine Penny and junior Brittany Hrynko were both named unanimous selections to the All-Big East First Team. Junior Megan Rogowski was named Honorable Mention and freshman Jessica January was named a unanimous pick to the Freshman Team.
DePaul is the only school in the Big East to have five players in the top 30 in scoring (Penny at 15.7 ppg, Rogowski at 15.1 ppg, Hrynko at 12.7 ppg, Chanise Jenkins at 10.2 ppg, and January at 9.2 ppg).
The Blue Demons are the only team besides ex-Big East member Connecticut to win a game every year in the tournament.
DePaul started 2-2 in the Big East, but then won 13 of its last 14 games.
"We have been playing with an NCAA Tournament mentality since we started 2-2 in the Big East," said Bruno. "Once you are 2-2, it is a one-and-out season at that point. We have had the pressure on us a really long time, so that should have helped us.
DePaul has outscored its opponents 1246 to 926 (+320) in first halves this year and 1274-1201 (+73) in second halves. It is averaging 84.0 ppg while holding its opponents to 70.0 ppg. The Blue Demons lead the Big East in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage.
The Blue Demons beat Xavier 87-60 and 78-49 in conference play. They beat Georgetown 92-69 and 91-74.
"When you are in a conference it is like playing against your brothers; we all know each other," said Bruno.
DePaul last played at Allstate Arena in 2012, a second round NCAA Tournament loss to Tennessee.
Georgetown (4-14, 10-20, No. 8 seed)
The Hoyas finished eighth in the Big East. They are led by Andrea White (17.2 ppg) and Faith Woodard (10.8 ppg). First year coach Jim Lewis took over the team just two weeks before the first game.
Freshman Natalie Butler was the unanimous choice for Big East Freshman of the Year. She averaged 13.9 ppg and 13.8 rpg. Butler set a new Big East record for single season rebounds with 248. She reached 21 double doubles this year, the first player to reach 20 in a season since DePaul's Khara Smith registered 23 in the 2005-06 season.
White and Butler were named to the All-Big East Second Team. Woodard was named to the Freshman Team.
Georgetown is averaging 64.4 ppg while giving up 71.0 ppg. They have had nine games decided by three points or less this year. The Hoyas are second in the Big East in rebounding margin (+7.8) and second in field goal percentage defense (38.9 percent).
The Hoyas lost to Xavier 85-68 and beat them 66-58.
Xavier (3-15, 8-22, No. 9 seed)
The Musketeers are led by Shatyra Hawkes (12.4 ppg), Ashley Wanninger (11.5 ppg), and Briana Glover (10.1 ppg). Maddison Blackwell (6.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg) was named to the Freshman Team.
Xavier scores 58.3 ppg, last in the Big East, and gives up 68.8 ppg. It has lost its last 12 games, but the Musketeers did beat Michigan and No. 2 seed St. John's this year.
No. 7 Seton Hall takes on No. 10 Providence in the first game on Saturday at McGrath-Phillips Arena starting at 4:00 CST.
The quarterfinals start Sunday at noon at Allstate Arena, with No. 2 St. John's taking on the winner of the Seton Hall/Providence game. That game is followed by No. 3 Creighton, and its Big East Player of the Year Marissa Janning, taking on No. 6 Butler at 2:30. DePaul's game is followed by No. 4 Villanova and No. 5 Marquette at 8:30.
The semifinal match ups are at 3:00 and 5:30 on Monday. The title game is set for Tuesday at 8:00.
"I think [the tournament] is great for the city of Chicago," said Bruno. "We have been working long and hard with the city to promote women's basketball. I think the tournament will give the city a chance to come out and watch great women's basketball."
DePaul's Hrynko perhaps summarized best what each player on each team is feeling right now: "I'm just excited to play."
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