After their disappointing show against Butler last week, it made sense to doubt the DePaul Blue Demons a bit as they headed into the Prudential Center to face the Seton Hall Pirates. Dave Leitao’s squad completely collapsed in the second half of the Butler game and ended up getting blown out in what should have been a close game. This was going to be a challenge for the Blue Demons and they did respond. DePaul capped their week of basketball off with a 97-93 win on the road. The game was back and forth for most of the 40 minutes with both teams not giving an inch of separation from one another. They kept trading baskets and it seemed like the team which had the ball last was going to win the game. Unlike previous times, DePaul never faltered and guys were making key shots left and right. Both Femi Olujobi and Paul Reed hit clutch baskets and Eli Cain knocked down some free throws to keep the DePaul lead at 5 as we headed into the final thirty seconds of play. Seton Hall missed their next shot which led to two more free throws by Devin Gage, essentially sealing the game. It was a huge win for the Blue Demons as they are now 11-6 for the season and 3-3 in the Big East. This has been an amazing season for DePaul in terms of their growth and getting wins early in conference play has to be a nice change of the tide for the team. But they face a daunting task in another road test.
It’s hard to argue a team in the Big East which is playing as well as the Marquette Golden Eagles are right now. After getting blowout by St. John’s on New Years Day they have been on a hot streak, winning five in a row to stand near the top of the conference standings. In their most recent game on the road at Providence, the Golden Eagles were able to get two solid performances from Sam Hauser and Markus Howard. They scored 25 and 24 points respectively in what as a good win for Marquette. After being down eight at the half, they went on an offensive explosion, scoring 54 in the second frame. The win put Marquette’s record at 16-3 and their conference mark at 5-1. The polls also seem to be loving them as well. They jumped up 3 spots to number 12 in the latest AP Poll and in the coaches poll they moved up two spots to 11th. Marquette is currently the highest ranked Big East team and right now they are also the one team nobody wants to face.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 8:30 PM ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul) || 94.5 ESPN FM/540 AM ESPN
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where streaming is available)
Odds: Marquette opened up as 11-point favorites but it the lines has moved down to the Golden Eagles +10 or +9.5 pending on where you look (via Oddsshark.com)
Record ATS: DePaul (9-7-1) || Marquette (12-7)
O/U: The over/under opened at 150.5 (via Oddsshark.com)
Matchup by the numbers
These are the numbers for each team in terms of KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.
DePaul have an AdjOE ranking of 107.9 (93rd in the country) and an AdjDE ranking of 102.2 (137th in the country).
Marquette come into this game with an AdjOE ranking of 112.3 (35th in the country) and an AdjDE ranking of 95.5 (43rd in the country).
Last Time They Met
This will be the 124th meeting between the two schools with Marquette holding a huge series lead of 76-47. They split the season series with the home team holding serve in both matchups. The most recent game was a 70-62 DePaul victory in Chicago.
Three Things to Watch
Femi Olujobi’s hot streak
Well, if the past week has told us anything it’s that DePaul has found a new scoring outlet to reduce the strain on Cain and Max Strus. Olujobi has been red-hot in his past three games scoring 27, 23, and 22 respectively. He was exceptional against Seton Hall. Olujobi had a double double of 22 points and 11 rebounds while shooting an efficient 6 of 10 from the field. Where he really made the Pirates pay was at the line. He hit all 10 of his attempts from the charity stripe. If Marquette wants to slow down the senior, they need to force him to beat them from the three-point line and limit him going to the line.
Containing Markus Howard
You can’t stop Markus Howard, that’s a given. He’s been Marquettes top scorer this season and it’s not even close. Howard is averaging 24.3 points per game while shooting 43.9% from three. DePaul needs to make sure they don’t go under screens or lose Howard on any possession. The Blue Demons need to force the other guys to beat them because if they let Howard get cooking this could get ugly in a hurry.
Paul Reed vs the Hauser brothers
Along with Olujobi, Reed’s play has been fantastic in the month of January. He’s logged three double-doubles in a row and nearly had four with a 12 point 9 rebound performance in DePaul’s first meeting with Seton Hall. He pulled down 14 boards and went 5 of 5 from the free throw line in their second matchup.
Reed was a big reason why DePaul dominated on the glass in their last game. They had a 42-19 advantage on the glass. Yes you did read that correctly.
Controlling the glass and the tempo can not only help DePaul stay in the game but it can get them free points via offensive rebounds. Marquette’s two leading rebounders in the Hauser brothers will have their hands full. They have to make sure Reed doesn’t have an easy time rebounding the ball or it could lead to trouble for Marquette defense.