Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Semifinal Round. Tournament Primer via Blogging the Bracket.
Time & Place: 8:30 PM ET, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Justin Kutcher & Steve Lavin)
Radio: WYLL 1160 AM (DePaul; Zach Zaidman & Laurence Holmes); Cowboy Sports Network (Wyoming; Dave Walsh & Kevin McKinney)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Gamblin’ Info: Wyoming is a 2-point favorite via OddsShark. The over/under opened at 158.5.
Three Things To Watch
There Will Be Threes: The Wyoming Cowboys are 33rd in the nation in total three-point attempts (305). They chucked up 30 in a recent win over Northern Iowa, and 37 in another win against South Dakota State. Both games were at home.
Luckily for DePaul, the shots go up, but don’t always come down. The Cowboys are 250th in the nation in three-point percentage (33.1). The team is 8-0 at home and shoot 36.4 percent in their own building. However, Wyoming is 1-2 away from the Arena-Auditorium and shot 23.4 percent from beyond the arc in those games. For those reasons, the top priority for DePaul will probably be locking down the perimeter.
Wyoming’s highest-volume shooter is senior guard Jason McManamen. He averages 7.5 three-point attempts per game (making 33.7 percent of them). Their sharpest shooter is junior forward Alan Herndon, shooting 43.2 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game.
Drought Conditions: The points will not come easy for DePaul on Thursday. Wyoming has the 29th stingiest field goal defense in college basketball, holding opponents to 38.3 percent shooting. Those numbers were accomplished, however, against the 254th toughest schedule according to KenPom.com.
It will be best for the Blue Demons to be efficient on offense, and Wyoming has the ability to quickly end possessions. The Cowboys are 68th nationally in defensive rebounding rate, pulling down 73.4 percent of their opponent’s misses.
Prolific duo Eli Cain (20.5 ppg) & Billy Garrett Jr. (14.3 ppg, 3.6 apg) are going to need to have big nights to keep the Blue Demons from suffering the same fate as Wyoming’s previous foes. A team effort on the offensive boards will be crucial if the shots don’t fall for DePaul out of the gate.
The Pre-Test: DePaul’s schedule up to this point has been thin. KenPom rates it the 347th-toughest schedule in the land. The level of competition in the non-conference schedule can end on an upswing with this game (Wyoming’s KenPom ranking is 147th) and the possibility of USC (41st) or a rematch with Missouri State (129th) on Friday.
Wyoming will be the first test of many that the Blue Demons will face for the remainder of the year. Their first Big East opponent is defending national champion Villanova on December 28th. Also of note, everyone else in the conference except DePaul is ranked within KenPom’s Top 100.
The Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic could help steer DePaul into the right competitive mindset for the rest of the year. The same intensity that allowed them to demolish Chicago State and stave off a mid-game slump to take down SEMO will be needed this weekend and as the team heads into 2017.