HOW TO WATCH
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
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Chicago will play host to a Big East tilt featuring the top dog in the conference.
The DePaul Blue Demons (11-8, 3-5) will face off with the Villanova Wildcats (16-4, 7-0) right on down near McCormick Place at Wintrust Arena in the Windy City. DePaul will be aiming for a measure of revenge and redemption against ‘Nova, as they coughed up a lead against the Wildcats on the Main Line the last time these two teams squared up.
If DePaul is to win this matchup, then they’re going to have to somehow, someway stop Phil Booth. Booth has been an absolute machine in Big East play so far. He has averaged nearly 22 points per game against conference opponents while shooting 47.9 percent from the floor. He’s made 29 3-pointers since conference play started up, proving to be a terror from outside. Many were touting Eric Paschall going into this season, and Paschall has certainly been very good so far. But Booth has been the man for ‘Nova, and well, to borrow a phrase, The Man is coming around on Wednesday. DePaul will have to be ready to combat him.
Stepping up of late for Villanova has been freshman Saddiq Bey, who’s put up double digits in his last two games. He’s also been effective from 3-point land against conference foes, having shot 39.1 percent against his Big East peers. That includes a 50 percent mark in his last two games combined, in which he’s hit four total 3-pointers. He’s coming off a 10-point outing against the Seton Hall Pirates, in which he only played 19 minutes, but made them all count. Don’t be too surprised if he has a big showing again.
DePaul, meanwhile, has lost three of four as old habits appear to be dying hard. They reeled off two straight wins and three in four games, but have since tumbled to the Marquette Golden Eagles and Providence Friars. There’s no real shame in that, as both were away contests, and MU is one of the best teams in the Big East. But, if they want to avoid th wheels coming off, they’re going to have to piece it together eventually.
Chances are, in order to compete with ‘Nova, they’re going to have to see their 3-point offense improve. In the last two games, they’ve made just 11 3-pointers off 40 attempts. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that these last two outings have been among their worst from a points production this conference season. So, they’re going to have to try and get it together from the perimeter. Hoping for good outputs from Max Strus as well as Eli Cain and Paul Reed is probably a good start and step in the right direction.
Femi Olujobi could present some problems if he plays up to form again. He’s been very effective this conference season, hitting double figures in each of DePaul’s eight Big East games. He’s also shot the ball rather well, going 61.5 percent on 2-point tries with his eFG% and TS% up there in the Top 10 in the Big East. Olujobi put up 12 against ‘Nova last time around and went 5-for-7, so he’s proven already that he can get it going against the Cats. He’ll need to again if DePaul wants to stand any chance of pulling off the upset.