After an ugly win against Robert Morris to open their season, the DePaul Blue Demons suffered their first loss in similar fashion against Rutgers.
It wasn’t a good offensive output by the Blue Demons at all. Eli Cain was the only starter to score more than six points on the night, and basically kept DePaul afloat with his 24 points, 15 of which came from 3-point land. The offense was sporadic in the first half, and when you have your big players like Billy Garrett Jr. and Tre’Darius McCallum struggle (nine points combined in this game), your team is going to struggle. It was a very frustrating game for Dave Leitao and his coaching staff.
Their opponents, the Milwaukee Panthers, are in a similar state with a 1-1 record. Milwaukee got off their season on a good note, beating fellow in-state school Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), 88-58. But they didn’t have the same success when they lost to Memphis, 68-54. Milwaukee was blitzed by the Memphis offense, and were also completely manhandled on the glass with the advantage going 40-27 to the Tigers.
It wasn’t a horrible loss for Milwaukee considering that Memphis was the better team to begin with but they have to rebound quickly. The schedule after this game doesn’t look so bad outside of hosting South Dakota State next weekend and going on the road to play the Ohio Bobcats. The Panthers play East Tennessee State and UC Irvine in their next two games.
Milwaukee is going to have to really overachieve if they want to impress in Horizon League play and somehow make the NCAA Tournament. It all has to start with a win against DePaul.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 1:30 P.M. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Jeff Levering, LaChina Robinson)
Radio: WYLL 1160 AM (DePaul) || 1130 WISN (Milwaukee)
Streaming: Fox Sports Go (Where available)
Odds: DePaul enters this game as an 8-point favorite via OddsShark.com
Record ATS: DePaul (0-2) || Milwaukee Panthers (1-0)
3 things to watch for
Can Eli Cain get some help?
It’s been a great two games to start the season for Eli Cain. The sophomore from New Jersey has been the clear leader for DePaul on offense, averaging 22.5 points per game and shooting 56 percent from the field.
But Cain hasn’t gotten the help he needs from his fellow Blue Demons for teams to take them seriously on offense. Billy Garrett Jr. and Tre’Darius McCallum, the two other top scorers for the Blue Demons, have really struggled scoring the ball this season. Especially Garrett Jr., who was expected to lead DePaul in scoring in his senior year. He shot 1-for-11 against Rutgers and has only made three total field goals through two games.
It’s really been perplexing seeing Garrett Jr. struggle for DePaul. If they want to have more offensive success, Cain needs Garrett Jr. and McCallum to give him some help.
Look out for Cody Wichmann
So far the best player for Milwaukee has been guard Cody Wichmann. He leads the Panthers in scoring this season, averaging 18 points per game.
Wichmann’s strong ability to shoot from deep is his calling card, having made six threes against Memphis and three against MSOE. All but two of his field goal makes have been 3-pointers, showing his role of being the “automatic” sharpshooter.
In their exhibition game against Rockford, DePaul struggled in the first half against a similar team that loved to get its 3-point shooters involved. The Blue Demons can’t allow Wichmann to get hot from deep. It will open up a lot more options for Milwaukee if he is able to cause problems with his range.
Start of an important home stretch for DePaul
These next three games should be wins for DePaul, and simply put: that’s why they are important. After losing to Rutgers, there is a chance the Blue Demons could be caught off guard by one of the three teams they face at home before traveling to Evanston to face Northwestern. These games against Milwaukee, Missouri State, and Drake should be enough time for Dave Leitao to help develop his rotation and hopefully for DePaul, allow their stars to get out of their offensive slump.