If you had the DePaul Blue Demons as one of the few undefeated Big East teams a few weeks into the season, congratulations. It’s been a great start to the season for the Blue Demons as they are 3-0 for the first time in a long time. There were some nervy moments in their most recent game against Penn State, but they were able to hold on for the 72-70 overtime win. The word grit is an often overused term when it comes describing sports teams but it perfectly describes the Blue Demons. After giving up a 10-0 run to end regulation against the Nittany Lions, DePaul stayed calm and made plays to begin the final frame. It did take some fortune to get the win, as they gave up a wide open jumper to PSU in the final seconds but it fell short. The win kept DePaul at the top of the Big East as they, along with St. John’s, are the only undefeated teams in the conference. Nonetheless, the Blue Demons are undefeated as they head to South Bend to face their toughest test of the season.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the opponents this weekend for DePaul. Like the Blue Demons, they have had a very good start to their season, going 4-1. Apart from a surprising 63-60 home loss to Radford, the Irish have been quality. All of but one of their wins have been by double-digits, including their most recent game against Duquesne. It was a close game late, but a 13-0 run by ND in the final minutes sealed their fourth victory and their second in a row. In a conference as stacked as the ACC, Notre Dame is going to have a whale of a season ahead of them and no doubt will be a tough opponent for the Blue Demons.
After this game, Notre Dame continues their gauntlet against Illinois schools as they welcome the Fighting Illini before games against Oklahoma, UCLA, and Purdue. For DePaul, they come back home to face Chicago State before games against Florida A&M and Northwestern.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 12 PM ET
TV: ACC Network
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul)
Stream: WatchESPN (where streaming is available)
Odds: Notre Dame enters this game as a 5-point favorite (via OddsShark)
Record ATS: DePaul (3-0) || Notre Dame (2-3)
O/U: The O/U opened at 137
Last Time They Met
The Fighting Irish were the first opponents to play in Wintrust Arena when it opened last season. It was a spirited game with an electric atmosphere. Thanks to a big performance on Bonzie Colson, the Irish were able to pull off the 72-58 win. In terms of the al- time series, Notre Dame has a 61-44 lead in what will be the 106th meeting between the two schools.
Three Things to Watch For
Stopping Gibbs and Mooney
On this young ND team, two of the upperclassmen have taken the responsibility of being the leaders on offense. Juniors John Mooney and TJ Gibbs are the two leading scorers for the Irish at 14 and 11.8 points per game, respectively. Mooney has been a near double-double machine with his nine rebounds per game and Gibbs has been getting his teammates involved as well with 3.6 assists per game. These are the two who DePaul have to focus in on defensively. One area for Gibbs they can target is packing the paint and forcing him to take three-pointers. He’s been shooting 13.6% from three-point land this season and it’s a win if the Blue Demons force him to take some shots from there.
Controlling the Boards
On average, DePaul gets more rebounds per game than Notre Dame with a 48-41 advantage. The Blue Demons have to make sure to continue manning the glass, especially on the road in a tough environment. Jaylen Butz had 15 rebounds against Penn State so if there’s one guy who needs to continue to step up, it’s him. Look for contributions from Paul Reed and even the duo of Max Strus and Eli Cain.
Efficiency from the top scorers
Speaking of Cain and Strus, they will need to be on their A-game in South Bend. In the last game, Strus stepped up with 21 points despite going 7 of 20 from the field. Cain had another rough night with only 5 points. This was the second time in three games where he scored less than 10 points. DePaul was able to still get the win, a really good sign for this team. It’s something which wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago. DePaul needs more from Cain and the usual contribution for Strus if they want to walk out of the Joyce Center 4-0.