This was suppose to be a relatively easy stretch of basketball games for the DePaul Blue Demons to begin the 2016-17 season. The first five games were supposed to help DePaul ease into the season before they faced teams like Northwestern and Temple further down the road. Other than a matchup with an upstart Rutgers team (who are now 6-0!), the games seemed to look in favor of the Blue Demons.
Yet we have seen the exact opposite.
In the first four games of the year, only one has seemed to be an easy one. That was against Milwaukee. Billy Garrett Jr hitting a pull-up buzzer-beater was good enough to comeback and beat Missouri State and Eli Cain was good enough to pull them through Robert Morris. But it has been way less than impressive when it comes to quality wins. Yet the Blue Demons will find themselves in a similar situation in their next game, facing a team they should be able to beat.
DePaul will be facing the Drake Bulldogs, who also hail from the Missouri Valley Conference just like Missouri State. But unlike their conference rivals, it’s been a much tougher start to the season for Drake. The Bulldogs currently have a 1-5 record with their lone win being a 15-point victory over D3 Simpson.
Coming into this game on a three-game losing streak, Drake will be looking for any sort of inspiration against a team who struggled to begin the season. In a conference like the MVC, Drake isn’t expected to do much this season unless they show otherwise in nonconference play.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Network
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || 1350 ESPN Des Moines (Drake)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (Where available)
Odds: The Blue Demons opened as an 11-point favorite. The line dipped down to between 9.5/10 points.
Record ATS: DePaul (2-2) || Drake (1-5)
DePaul leads the all-time series between the Blue Demons and Bulldogs 5-2. The series dates back to their first meeting back in February 1971. Drake won two of the first three matchups in the series, but the Blue Demons have won the last four in a row including the last two meetings the schools have had in each of the last two seasons.
Three things to watch
Can DePaul stop Reed Timmer?
If there is a danger man that could help Drake get out of this slump, it’s junior Reed Timmer. The guard has had a great start to the season, averaging 16 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field. He had 24 points in Drake’s latest game, a 74-69 loss against Alaska-Anchorage and dropped 21 against Simpson. The game against Alaska-Anchorage was a comeback for Timmer who uses a strong mid-range game and likes to get to the line. He should be the focus on DePaul’s defense and the Blue Demons should be contempt with letting the other Drake players take more shots than Timmer. If they can do that or get Timmer off his game in terms of missing shots, Drake is in trouble.
Billy Garrett Jr. on the rise?
After struggling in the first three games, Billy Garrett Jr. showed up when DePaul needed him the most. With the game tied and the clock winding down in the second half, Garrett Jr. was able to beat his man and hit a jumper in the lane to beat the buzzer and Missouri State.
His 23 points in that game was a season high and after scoring 20 points against Milwaukee as well, this could be signs that Garrett Jr. is finding his feet in this new season.
With the sudden rise of Eli Cain, Garrett Jr. doesn’t have to be that guy for DePaul anymore. He can share the spotlight on the offensive end. But they still need him to put up double digits for DePaul to do well. They need both Cain and Garrett Jr. to help put the ball in the basket.
Will the long break affect DePaul?
It’s been a while since DePaul has last played a basketball game. A week in fact. In the fast pace college basketball season, a week between games can be the cause of a team starting out groggy to begin games. Especially against a team coming in on a three game losing streak. Hopefully for DePaul fans, head coach Dave Leitao has his players all set to go.