Although they captured their first win of the season Sunday against Robert Morris, it wasn’t pretty for the DePaul Blue Demons. Coming in as heavy favorites, DePaul struggled with foul trouble and shooting the ball from deep. As a team, DePaul shot a woeful 27.3% from the three. It was a close game throughout with the Blue Demons ultimately pulling it out to secure their first win.
DePaul’s opponent, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, are coming in with a two game winning streak and some momentum. Their first two wins came against D-II Molloy, and Drexel. Both wins were blowouts. With a new coach in Steve Pikiell, Rutgers is entering a new era and have gotten off to a good start so far. In a conference like the Big Ten, it is important that Rutgers has a solid nonconference season before they face the gauntlet that is conference play. After facing DePaul, Rutgers will only face two more teams from major conferences before Big Ten play tips off. They travel to Miami at the end of the month, and then play Seton Hall in their final nonconference game.
As for DePaul, they have some easier opponents in Milwaukee and Missouri State after this Rutgers game before they travel to Northwestern in the first days of December in what will be a test for the Blue Demons.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Tim Brando, Bill Raftery)
Radio: WYLL 1160 AM (DePaul) || WCTC 1450 AM or WOR 710 AM (Rutgers)
Streaming: FOX Sports Go (where available)
Odds: DePaul enters this game as a four point favorite via OddsShark
Record ATS: DePaul (0-1) || Rutgers (1-0)
Rutgers holds a 6-4 edge all-time over DePaul.
Three things to watch
Can Eli Cain keep it up?
Despite DePaul struggling all game, Eli Cain had a very solid season opener. The sophomore dropped 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, and got to the line nine times, knocking down seven free throws. The only blemishes on his performance was his five turnovers, and the fact that he fouled out with a little under three minutes left in the game. Had he not fouled out, we could have seen a smoother ending to the game from DePaul offensively. On a night where usual go-to guy Billy Garret Jr. struggled (2-of-10 from the field), Cain stepped up when needed.
Battle on the boards
For Rutgers, the key to winning this game is to win the battle on the boards and limit the number of second chances for DePaul. It looks like they have the upper hand coming into this game on the glass. Deshawn Freeman is Rutgers leading rebounder with 10 rebounds a game on the young season. DePaul didn’t have a player who had more than eight against Robert Morris. Tre’Darius McCallum will be the guy on the glass for DePaul, and against Rutgers he will be up against stiff competition between Freeman and C.J. Gettys, who averages 7.5 rebounds per game. Considering how both teams have the tendency to struggle offensively, this game could come down to limiting second chance opportunities.
It’s been a great start to the season for the Big East. They have only lost one game as a conference this season, and have proven they can beat other teams in big conferences. It’s another Big Ten vs. Big East matchup and conference pride will be on the line.