It’s the final game of the Big East regular season and it will be Senior Day, an emotional time for everyone in the program. The end of the regular season will either be the end of a terrible season or the just the beginning of the madness some teams hope to create in March.
Sadly for the DePaul Blue Demons, the former will be in play for them. After grabbing a shock win over Marquette last week, the Blue Demons came out flat in their last game against Creighton. It wasn’t even close in Omaha, as the Bluejays steamrolled to a 82-57 win. It was DePaul’s 14th loss in conference play and dropped their overall record to 11-18. They also have found themselves in the cellar of the Big East standings once again.
DePaul is tied with St.John’s for last in terms of conference record, but with the Johnnies better overall record being used as a tiebreaker, DePaul is last. However, if they are somehow, someway, able to knock off Xavier, they could jump all the way to as high as eighth place. It’s been a tough season for DePaul and they face one more buzzsaw of a team before the Big East tournament.
While it’s been a tough season for DePaul, it’s been the exact opposite for their opponents in the Xavier Musketeers. With a conference record of 14-3 and an overall record of 26-4, Chris Mack’s squad sits at the top of the Big East kingdom. But if they want to clinch a #1 seed in the Big East tournament next week, they will have to defeat the Blue Demons in Chicago.
With Villanova nipping at their heels (1 game back in the standings), Xavier can’t lose focus at the end of the regular season here. After getting smacked by Villanova, the Musketeers rebounded by reeling off two straight wins. They beat Georgetown and Providence by double digits with the 84-74 win over the Friars being their most latest victory. There’s no doubt Xavier is going to get a bye in the Big East Tournament. But what side of the bracket they will be depends on if they win or not.
For both of these teams, the Big East tournament is last. A matchup against Marquette in the 7 vs. 10 is likely in sight for DePaul while Xavier will play the winner of the 8 vs. 9 matchup.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 11 AM CT
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || 700 WLW-AM
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Record ATS: DePaul (15-13-1) || Xavier (20-10)
Last Time They Met
It was a barnburner the last time these two teams met in January. DePaul had an amazing first half and stormed out to a lead as big as 16 on the road. But the X fought back and recovered from an extra shaky start to take the lead in the final minutes to snatch victory from DePaul. It was a relief for Xavier and a crushing loss for DePaul. This will be the 22nd meeting between the two programs with the Musketeers holding a 12-9 lead.
3 things to watch
Other than Eli Cain, Max Strus has been DePaul’s most steady player on offense. He’s been averaging 17 points per game on 41% shooting from the field. Strus has been playing the most out of any player on the Blue Demons this season and it’s clear that even to stay competitive in most games, they need his shooting to be top notch. Like Cain, he can’t afford to have any off games. Against teams like Xavier, he will need to be lights out.
According to KenPom, the Blue Demons have a top 60 defense. They have an adjusted defense rating of 99.1, tied for 55th highest in the country. Let’s see if they can keep it up.
Cleaning it up before the tournament
This is the last time Chris Mack can experiment with lineups and what not before things get serious and no mistakes can be mad. It will be time to smooth down the edges for Xavier as they head into March with expectations of a deep playoff run in site.