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Preview: DePaul vs. No. 6 Xavier

DePaul and Xavier close out 2017 with a matchup in Cincinnati!

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Major Keys

Time & Place: 2:00 pm ET, Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

TV: FS1 (Tim Brando, Len Elmore)

Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul; Zach Zaidman, Dave Corzine), WLW 700 AM (Xavier; Joe Sunderman, Byron Larkin)

Streaming: FOX Sports GO

Gambling (via OddsShark): Xavier opened as 14.5-point favorites. They are 11-3 against the spread this season, while DePaul is 7-5-1.

About the Blue Demons

The DePaul Blue Demons (7-6, 0-1) aren’t getting anything easy at the start of Big East play. The Blue Demons kicked off conference play with a home date against No. 1 Villanova. It went the way you’d expect, with ‘Nova winning 103-85. Now, they have to head on the road to face another ranked opponent in No. 6 Xavier. DePaul hasn’t defeated a ranked team on the road since January 2015 when they took down then-No. 24 Seton Hall.

The upperclassmen have led the charge for DePaul. Junior transfer Max Strus leads the team in scoring at 17.5 points per game. He paced the Demons with 20 points in the loss to Villanova. Grad transfer Marin Maric came away with 17 points and 10 rebounds in that game. He averages 13.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Eli Cain is the floor general, averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game. According to the school’s game notes, he needs 24 points to become the 50th Blue Demon to reach 1,000th career points. Cain last scored 24 on Feb. 19, 2017 in a loss at Butler.

About the Musketeers

The Xavier Musketeers (13-1, 1-0) took all three meetings against DePaul last season: Their two regular season matchups and their tilt in the first round of the Big East Tournament. The Musketeers have actually won eight of their nine matchups against DePaul as a member of the Big East. DePaul last prevailed on Jan. 3, 2015, 71-68. However, Xavier has won the last six games.

Trevon Bluiett has been a true senior leader this year. His 23 points, six rebounds, and eight assists helped push Xavier past Marquette 91-87 on Wednesday. His 20.0 points per game are fourth-most in the Big East. He also adds 5.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game to his ledger.

But Bluiett hasn’t made the Musketeers one of the best team’s in the land on his own. Fellow senior J.P. Macura is averaging 12.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Meanwhile, Tyrique Jones and Kaiser Gates have been a key presence on the front line. Jones averages 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while Gates averages a nearly-identical 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.