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DePaul finalizes 2017-18 nonconference schedule

Local opponents and the PK80 Invitational highlight the Blue Demons’ nonconference schedule.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Georgetown Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

The DePaul men’s basketball team released their nonconference schedule on Wednesday. It includes seven homes games at the brand-new Wintrust Arena, several in-state opponents, and a Thanksgiving tournament featuring some of college hoops’ top teams.

The Blue Demons will open Wintrust Arena with three consecutive home games. Things will kick off on Nov. 5th with an exhibition game against NAIA school Indiana-Northwest. The regular season home opener will follow on Nov. 11th against Notre Dame. This will be the 105th all-time meeting between the Blue Demons and Fighting Irish. It is also their first games since 2012-13 when Notre Dame was a member of the Big East. Both matchups of that final series as conference foes went to overtime. DePaul will host Delaware State two days later.

DePaul’s first road test comes on Nov. 17th against Illinois in Champaign. This will be their first meeting against the Illini since 1957. The matchup is a part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a series that pits Big East and Big Ten teams against each other. This is Illinois’ first season under new coach Brad Underwood.

The Blue Demons will spend Thanksgiving weekend in Portland, Oregon for the PK80 Invitational. DePaul was surprisingly added to the tourney at the beginning of this month as a replacement for Georgetown.

The Blue Demons are in the Victory bracket of the 16-team tournament, and are guaranteed to play three games. Their first opponent is Michigan State on Nov. 23rd. The rest of their schedule depends on rather they win or lose their matchups. Their Nov. 24th game will be between either Connecticut or Oregon. Their Nov. 26th game will be against Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, or Portland.

DePaul will close out their non-con with six games in December. All of them will be played in Chicago, five of them at home. Their home opponents include Youngstown State (Dec. 2nd), Central Connecticut (Dec. 6th), Alabama A&M (Dec. 11th), Northwestern (Dec. 16th), and Miami (Ohio) (Dec. 21st).

The one road game will take them only three miles to the northwest. DePaul will face UIC at the Pavilion on Dec. 9th. The Blue Demons will hope to exact revenge after losing 80-75 at McGrath-Philips Arena last season.

The Blue Demons sported a very middling nonconference schedule last season. The 2017-18 schedule is a sizable improvement. The strength of schedule bump is helped in large part by scoring a last-minute spot in the PK80 Invitational.

The finalized slate features a good variety of guarantee games, challenging mid-tier opponents, and some tough games outside of Chicago. This schedule will be a useful test ahead of another strong Big East schedule. How the team handles these games will give fans a good idea of how the program is progressing under head coach Dave Leitao.