The DePaul Blue Demons may be 4-1, but their record could easily be the other way around. Surprisingly, DePaul has struggled with teams that looked beatable on paper. The trend continued this past week against Drake University. DePaul really struggled in the first half against the Bulldogs, trailing by nine at the break. Once again, the Blue Demons picked it up in the second half. Eli Cain, who has been carrying the team this whole season, score 19 points in the game and also came up with a clutch and-one layup to give DePaul the lead with less than a minute remaining. As Drake’s three-pointer to win the game clanked off the rim, there was a sense of relief for DePaul to avoid what would have been a very bad loss. Now the Blue Demons face their toughest test of the season in the Northwestern Wildcats.
Northwestern, who comes in with a record of 5-2, has had a pretty decent non conference schedule and the Wildcats have played well against their competition. Their two losses on this season have been against quality opponents in Butler and Notre Dame. The best win of the season so far came November 21st against Texas, who was ranked 22nd coming into that game. It was a very convincing win as NW beat the Longhorns by a score of 77-58, using a 43 point second half to pull away from Shaka Smarts team. Starting off 5-2 certainly must have Northwestern thinking that this is the year that they have a shot at competing in the Big Ten and a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, although it is way too early to tell.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || 720 WGN (Northwestern)
Live Stream: BTN2Go
Odds: Northwestern opens as a 15.5 point favorite via OddsShark.com
Record ATS: DePaul (2-3) || Northwestern (4-2)
O/U: The O/U opens at 135.5.
Three Things to Watch
1. Northwestern’s Balanced Scoring Attack
Coming into this game, the Wildcats certainly have a lot of weapons on the offense end. Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey, and Bryant McIntosh all average over 13 points per game. Law and Lindsey are threats from deep, shooting 54.5 and 42.9 percent respectively. McIntosh is more of the facilitator (4.6 assists per game) and is better at scoring inside.
With DePaul’s defense coming into this game a little bit shaky, this could be a tough game for Dave Leitao’s team on that end of the court. DePaul will have to be able to shut down two of the three headed monster of NU’s offense, but that is easier said than done.
2. Same offense from DePaul?
Eli Cain has been carrying DePaul on his back to start the season. He’s averaging 21.2 points per game on 57.8 percent shooting from the field and is shooting 55 percent from deep. He was a key figure in their win against Missouri State although Billy Garrett Jr. saved the Blue Demons on that night.
Cain will likely have to carry the Blue Demons again against a Northwestern defense that only gives up 65.3 points per game, good for 70th in the country. He will have to play extra special against Northwestern if DePaul wants to win.
3. Start of a big stretch for DePaul
After this game DePaul plays Temple in a few days and that kicks off the “hard” part of their nonconference schedule. Teams like UIC and Wyoming will also give DePaul a harder time than the first five teams the Blue Demons have played. Let’s hope that they come out better in the first half than they have in previous games.