After their win against Delaware State a week ago, the DePaul Blue Demons traveled down to Champaign, Illinois to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Gavitt Games. It was the first meeting between the two programs in 60 years, which was surprising given the proximity between the two. Even though it was a historic event, things did not go as planned for Dave Leitao’s team. Despite getting a career-high 19 points from freshman Justin Roberts, the Blue Demons fell 82-73 to their in-state comrades. It was a tough night offensively for DePaul, getting a mere eight points combined from Eli Cain and Tre’Darius McCallum. It was tough to watch even though DePaul stayed in the game for most of it. Sadly for the Blue Demons, their next game is about to be tougher. A whole lot tougher, actually, as they head to Oregon for the PK80 Invitational.
In their first game in the invitational, DePaul will be facing the Michigan State Spartans. It’s another year of massively high expectations for Tom Izzo and his squad with Sparty being ranked in the Top 5 all through the preseason and throughout the regular season thus far. MSU will enter this game 2-1 and have been good in their performances in those contests. They have been dominant in their wins over UNF and Stony Brook, beating their opponents by 32 and 22 respectively. Michigan State’s only loss this year came in the Champions Classic against #1 ranked Duke. Despite not having Marvin Bagley for the whole second half, Duke pulled away at the end to continue their win streak over the Spartans.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 11:30 PM ET
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || Spartan Sports Network (Michigan State)
Odds: Michigan State enters this game as a 15.5 point favorite (via Oddsshark
Record ATS: DePaul (1-2) || Michigan State (1-2)
Last Time They Met
Now this is a stat which may surprise you. DePaul actually leads the series against the Spartans with seven wins and only four losses. Like Illinois, it’s been a while since DePaul actually played each other. The last time these two teams met was back in 2003 in East Lansing and it was a 89-81 win for the Spartans.
Three Things to Watch For
More from DePaul’s star power
Like I said earlier, it was a very disappointing performance from DePaul’s top two offensive players. Both Cain and McCallum failed to provide any firepower for them with the latter scoring zero points against Illinois. Against tougher opponents, DePaul needs both of them to be at the top of their games in order for the team to even have a chance of winning. Can they show up against MSU and at least keep DePaul in it?
Will Miles Bridges play?
Even though it was a victory against Stony Brook in their most recent game, things weren’t all roses for Michigan State. Particularly when it came to the health of star man Miles Bridges. He left the Stony Brook game after spraining his left ankle and it could cause him to miss this game. It would be a huge loss for MSU as Bridges is their main man, averaging 19.7 points on 51.2% from the field. It might not be the end of world for the Spartans in this game but as they advance deeper into this Invitational, his absence could be a problem.
Controlling the ball
If DePaul wants to win this game, they are going to need to control the tempo (somehow) and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. There could be quite a number of chances for DePaul to get some easy points on the break. So far this season, MSU has been averaging a whopping 17 turnovers per game. That’s not something you expect to see from a top 5 team and you would expect the problem to sort itself out as the season wears on. But for now, it’s a problem. Maybe DePaul can get some quick points on a MSU defense that is 32nd in the country in terms of points allowed and is 23rd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive ranking.