DePaul Blue Demons vs. #10 Villanova Wildcats – Wednesday, February 25th, 7:00 p.m. Central
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The Wildcats (22-5, 10-4) have earned themselves an AP top 25 ranking of #10, and in the USA today polls a #12 slot. Prevailing with recent wins over Rutgers and at Syracuse, Villanova moved up two spots on each board despite the 93-72 loss to West Virginia on the 13th.
Their season has been impressive, and not overshadowed by five losses inclusive of a one pointer to consensus #6 Louisville, a seven point loss to a top 10 Marquette team, and a six point loss to consensus #2 Connecticut. Villanova is a team capable of taking the best teams in college basketball to the limit. They are a contender for the national championship with a real shot at reaching the elite 8. Their other two losses were the recent against a hot shooting team in West Virginia, and an earlier loss back in December to a sporadic Texas team was a mere minor setback.
The Wildcats now have key wins against consensus #1 Pitt, a split with top 10 Marquette, and a slew of victories against other Big East opponents including Providence, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, and St. Johns. They have a non-conference record of 12-1. The numbers indicate the team is having a phenomenal year, their major losses coming only to the best teams in college basketball.
DePaul (8-19, 0-14) has been struggling to snap a now fourteen game losing streak. Thankfully, this year's Big East tournament will be incorporating all 16 Big East teams, allowing them to participate in the annual conference tournament held at Madison Square Garden. The new rule is a great gesture, and it will give the Blue Demons squad a reward for their efforts. The team is still exerting effort game after game, and they still have reason not to give up.
Though just about every logical number and computer would predict Villanova to top DePaul, logic says too, as long as two teams play, there is a chance either could win.
As indicated by the losses, Villanova is vulnerable. DePaul will really have to use the whole court, and not get trapped if they want to have an opportunity to win. Villanova is so quick that they cover most of the floor very well. Some good perimeter ball movement and DePaul might get some decent looks at the basket from three point land. DePaul can knock down the long range shot, though their numbers indicate their consistency is lacking; showing a meager .280 percentage from outside the arc.
The Demons will have a better chance of winning considering they are playing at home at Allstate Arena. The Wildcats are 13-1 on their own home court. The Blue Demons do hold a 6-8 record at home, which does say they are capable of winning. Villanova isn't perfect or unbeatable on the road, with three of their four losses away from home. Going against a 13-1 in Wildcat territory may have proved way too much for DePaul to handle. They're going to have their hands full anyway.
The Wildcats are tricky to guard because they have multiple players that can score in double digits, consistently. DePaul will have to try and keep wraps and pressure on Dante Cunningham 16.3 ppg, Corey Fisher 11.2 ppg, Corey Stokes 9.9 ppg, and Scottie Reynolds, whom seems to be consistently improving, his mark now at 15.3.
To make things tougher for the Blue Demons, Dante Cunningham also gets about seven rebounds a game, a block or two, and can shoot; he's close to 55% per attempt.
Villanova is a strong defensive team, and they shift very well. They leave little room for bucket scoring from most of the major areas on the court. They will shift defensive pressure from half court to full court and back, they will move as a unit in both man-to-man schemes, and they have their own style of 2-3.
There is only so much of the court that can be covered, and evidenced by the five losses, Villanova is vulnerable. If DePaul can swing the ball around and keep the Villanova defenders moving, the Demons may be able to get some shots from the corners. Will Walker has some good range, Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal will most likely be atop the leading scorers list for the Demons.
West Virginia, the most recent team to give Villanova trouble, did muster some success getting the ball inside, but they had to shoot an even 50% from the floor to get the win. DePaul is hovering around 40% on the season, and they're shooting as a team, less than 30% from the arc. DePaul might have to look inside, and give some more chances to forward Devin Hill, a 6-9, 210 lb. freshman, or 6-10, 245 lb. Matija Poscic, whom both have the ability to be productive. DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright may really need to mix and match his game plan if DePaul is going to get close to, or win.
Dar Tucker usually leads the way for the Demons, often setting the tone with his energy, gaining 18.4 ppg in his 30 plus minutes per game, and junior guard Will Walker does continue to have a nice season; averaging the most minutes on the floor for the Demons, and draining a little over 40% of his shots. Mac Koshwal might be the Demons' most consistently underrated threat and a go-to option as a scorer, even though he's having bits of problems with turnovers, he's getting good touches through his rebounding efforts. His line: .537 FG%, 31.8 minutes, 13.3 ppg, 9.8 rebounds, almost a double-double per game.
DePaul has lost fourteen games in row, and it's woeful for the storied program, but if they are playing, they can't be counted out. This is a late season chance to gain some confidence, and to practice against what is turning out to be, a team that could make a substantially significant run towards the national title. Villanova is amongst the best in the nation right now.
DePaul has to combo floor-tactics to win this one. They're either going to need an unbelievable shooting performance from some individuals, and play team defense, or, work as a team, distribute the ball, run hard, and get as many rebounds as they possibly can, while playing team defense. Second chance points and points in the paint may be the difference between a win and a loss for either team. If DePaul misses shots, and don't rebound, they really stand little chance at success. This year, Villanova has been able to put up some monstrous offensive numbers, and they do it quick, often scoring in the sunny 70's. In their last five games they've scored over 80 twice, and over 100 twice. DePaul has been giving up over 70 a game, and may be in trouble if Villanova starts creating turnovers and running. If Villanova reaches 80, it's fair to say the Wildcats will be on a three in a row win streak, and winners of nine in their last ten en route to a very good seed in the Big East conference tournament.
The Last Time
On January 16, 2008 at the Pavilion, Villanova defeated Depaul 76-69 behind 21 points from Scottie Reynolds. Antonio Pena chipped in with a near double-double of 17 points and nine rebounds, while Dante Cunningham added 14.
DePaul senior guard Draelon Burns led all scorers with 27 points, while freshman Dar Tucker contributed 18.
No. Name Pos. Cl. (EXP) Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
0 Antonio Pena Forward RS SO (2L) 6-8 235 Brooklyn, N.Y. St. Thomas More
1 Scottie Reynolds Guard JR (2L) 6-2 190 Herndon, Va. Herndon
4 Jason Colenda Guard JR (1L) 205 Fairfax, Va. Bishop O'Connell
10 Corey Fisher Guard SO (1L) 6-1 200 Bronx, N.Y. St. Patrick's (N.J.)
15 Reggie Redding Guard JR (2L) 6-5 205 Philadelphia, Pa. St. Joseph's Prep
20 Shane Clark Forward SR (3L) 6-7 205 Philadelphia, Pa. Hargrave Military Academy
21 Maurice Sutton Forward/Center FR 6-11 215 Upper Marlboro, Md. Largo
22 Dwayne Anderson Guard/Forward SR (3L) 6-6 215 Silver Spring, Md. St. Thomas More
23 Russell Wooten Forward JR 6-4 210 Chula Vista, Calif. St. Augustine
24 Corey Stokes Guard SO (1L) 6-5 220 Bayonne, N.J. St. Benedict's
31 Taylor King Forward RS FR 6-6 230 Huntington Beach, Cal. Santa Ana Mater Dei
33 Dante Cunningham Forward SR (3L) 6-8 230 Silver Spring, Md. Potomac
42 Frank Tchuisi Forward SR (3L) 6-8 215 Douala, Cameroon St. Benedict's
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