It isn't very often that DePaul is expected to win games that they play. Not because of how awesome their opponents are, but because DePaul hasn't exactly set the world on fire during the Oliver Purnell era. Still, this year's version of the Blue Demons might be the most complete team Purnell has had and taking advantage of the non-conference schedule is going to be incredibly important if they want to find success down the road.
DePaul's non-conference schedule is not as weak as you think, however. Case in point: Wednesday's game against Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles are undefeated just like DePaul. In their season opener they whooped Jackson State by 16 points. Which is all swell, although, it was only Jackson State -- not the Harlem Globe Trotters.
Daveon Boardingham and Aaron Brown were the catalysts for Southern Miss in the victory. But to be fair, they were not the lone reason for Souther Miss' success nor will be the key reasons if they want to stand a chance against the mighty DePaul Blue Demons.
Southern Miss is loaded with experience. Four seniors, three juniors and two sophomore saw legitimate playing time for the Golden Eagles. Also, they do have some freshman who are going to dress for the game against DePaul, but it is unlikely any of them are going to see any extended playing time.
This is the 10th meeting between these two programs. It will be the first meeting since 2002 and DePaul holds the edge in the battle 5-4.
Billy Garrett Jr. was the more hyped freshman when DePaul played their opener, but it was another freshman, Tommy Hamilton IV, who stole the show. The 6'10" man-beast scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Not only has he appeared to add a low-post scoring threat, but is a guy who can rebound -- which is something DePaul has desperately needed. Keep an eye on him to see if that is the kind of player Hamilton really is or if it was just a fluke. It would be critical for DePaul -- in a good way -- down the road if he turned out to be a double-double monster.
How to watch
Wednesday, November 13
8:00 p.m. CT
TV: Fox Sports 2
Yuck, star watches are the devil. Regardless, it is the usual suspects for DePaul. Either Brandon Young or Cleveland Melvin are going to be all kinds of productive. Heck, both might be, but at least one of them has to get their usual 16-ish points to keep this game from going the way of the upset. Granted, I don't how big of an upset it would be if DePaul lost (because, you know, they have done a lot of that over the years), but this is a game they should win.
I am going with Aaron Brown for Southern Miss, although he might not be their best player. What he is,though, is an undersized forward (6'5", at best). It will be interesting to see who he guards whenever the Golden Eagles go with a man-to-man defense and if he has any trouble scoring on the offensive side of the ball. What he lacks in size, however, he more than makes up for with experience. Before coming to Southern Miss, Brown played two years at Temple and had two relatively successful seasons. Playing against teams from "power" conferences are not going to be an issue for him.
Keys to win
This goes for both sides. The first five minutes of the game will likely determine the outcome. Cliche? You bet, but it doesn't change the fact that the tempo will be set in that time frame and DePaul could go a long way in slapping Southern Miss in the mouth if they were to get out to an early lead.
Let Southern Miss hang around or build confidence in those first five minutes, lookout.
Really, needless and unnecessary prediciton
DePaul 81, Southern Miss 70
I actually think this game is going to be closer than the score indicts and that Southern Miss can give DePaul a run for their money. But, again, if DePaul gets on the Golden Eagles early, Southern Miss won't have the weapons or the depth to catch up or even keep pace with a Blue Demons team who -- if anything -- can score in bunches.