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Preview: DePaul vs. UIC

DePaul and UIC face off Saturday in a Windy City matinee.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Michigan State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The DePaul Blue Demons (4-4) don’t have to travel far for their Saturday road matchup against the UIC Flames (3-5). Wintrust Arena and the UIC Pavilion are only three miles apart.

Despite being in the same city, the Blue Demons and Flames have only met eight times. DePaul is 6-2 in the all-time series.

Major Keys

Time & Place: 4:00 PM ET, UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois

TV: NBC Sports Chicago (Jordan Bernfield, Jonathan Hood)

Radio: WSCR 670 AM (Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes)

Streaming: ESPN3/WatchESPN (Video), BlueTube (Audio)

Gambling (via OddsShark): DePaul opened as a 1.5-point favorite. The Blue Demons are 4-3-1 against the spread. UIC is 2-6 against the spread this season.

About the Combatants

DePaul: The Blue Demons are riding a three-game winning streak after solid wins over Portland, Youngstown State, and Central Connecticut State. Head coach Dave Leitao has settled into his starting lineup and eight-man rotation. Eli Cain, Devin Gage, Marin Maric, Tre’Darius McCallum, and Max Strus have tipped off every game this season.

The transfers have really come through this year. Max Strus is DePaul’s leading scorer at 14.4 points per game. He’s also added 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals a game to his ledger. Marin Maric has been a solid man in the middle, averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

But it’s Eli Cain that has been DePaul’s engine. He’s averaging 13.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.

UIC: The Flames are looking to grow as a program in their third season under Steve McClain. Their 76-48 victory over Division II Wisconsin-Parkside on Dec. 6 broke a four-game losing streak where they averaged 23.7 points per defeat.

But part of the reason for those huge losses is because they have challenged themselves in the non-conference schedule. Their last three losses came on the road to No. 8 Kentucky, Troy, and Loyola-Chicago: the same team that just upset Florida down in Gainesville.

Lanky swingman Dikembe Dixson is UIC’s leading scorer. He averages 13.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Marcus Ottey chips in 10.9 points per game off the bench. However, the Flames’ X-factor will be center Tai Odiase. Odiase is one of only two seniors on a squad with 10 rookies and sophomores. He averages 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.