Who should DePaul play to open up new arena?

While DePaul men’s basketball currently calls the Allstate Arena its main office, the team will be shifting to unfamiliar territory. Originally scheduled to open during the 2016-17 season, the cutting-edge arena near McCormick Place is on pace to unlock its doors at the beginning of the 2017-2018 campaign.

Mike Brey, Notre Dame’s head coach, already started to stir the pot for who the Blue Demons should play in the first game of their new stadium.

“You know, the one thing we do want to do, and I’m going to talk to the DePaul people when I get over there, is we should open up their new building,” Brey said on WSCR 670 The Score Radio.

Should the Blue Demons take on the Fighting Irish, or does another team sound more intriguing? Let’s take a look at the options.

Notre Dame:

Even though Notre Dame moved to the ACC and DePaul stayed put in the Big East, the two teams once had a rivalry. Since 1912, they’ve played each other 104 times, including two overtime battles during the 2012-2013 season. On both occasions, the Irish showed their experience and wore down the Blue Demons.

After just coming up short against Kentucky in the Elite Eight of last season’s March Madness, Notre Dame seems to have put itself back on the map as a top tier collegiate program. Inserting a team like that on DePaul’s schedule would create a whole lot of buzz, especially in a brand new arena. Chances are head coach Dave Leitao wouldn’t need to amp up his fanbase too much.

Illinois:

When was the last time DePaul played the squad from Champaign-Urbana? 58 years ago. Fans thought this season might halt that drought, but instead the Blue Demons will face off with Penn State in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a series between the Big East and the Big Ten. While the conferences will change up the matchups through the 2020 season, there’s no guarantee that the two schools will play one and another.

All of the begging and yearning for an in-state rival has gone for not. Although DePaul will begin a series with Northwestern this season, both schools have struggled over the last decade; the Illini are the one program in Illinois to have success of late. If the Blue Demons can begin to win consistently over the next couple of seasons, the chance to build a budding rivalry would be there for the taking; starting it off in the opener of the new stadium wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Loyola:

Hate was aplenty when DePaul and Loyola used to square off against each other. Now, there isn’t much; the two schools haven’t faced off since 2012, when the Ramblers knocked off the Blue Demons for the first time since ‘89.

This matchup doesn’t necessarily bring the appeal that a Notre Dame or Illinois would, but Loyola’s team appears to be on the rise. The Ramblers won the College Basketball Invitational title this past season and were also the only team in Illinois to be a part of any postseason tournament. Given the need for a rivalry between two Chicago schools, showcasing this matchup in the opener could bring some noise to the city.

Who’s the best candidate?

Until Loyola proves themselves, there’s no guarantee it’ll bring that much attention to the table. Thus, it’s a close call between the other two programs, but putting the DePaul-Notre Dame rivalry in the rear view mirror would present the chance to start a new one with a ton of hype. Plus, the Illini fanbase is as passionate as any, creating a fun atmosphere for the unveiling of DePaul’s arena in 2017.


We Are DePaul Top Stories