For the good part of the decade, the non-conference schedule has been crucial to the DePaul Blue Demons. Given how strong the Big East has been in recent memory, conference play has always been a buzzsaw for the Blue Demons. Playing some of the best teams in the country multiple times doesn’t make for an easy schedule. The talent gap between DePaul and the rest of conference didn’t help either. They finished in the bottom of the conference standings and much of it was due to a poor conference record.
So the nonconference mattered a lot more to rack up wins early and gain some sort of momentum before they have to face the gauntlet of teams in January and February. But this season seems different. DePaul has shown to be miles better than previous editions and have proven to be one of the best teams in the Big East. Instead of hoping to rack up wins early, DePaul is hoping to show the country that they deserve to be playing in March.
The Blue Demons last game saw them beat Cleveland State 73-65 in a much closer game than most expected it. It was a lot tighter of a second half given how the first twenty minutes went. DePaul dominated in the first half, forcing havoc for the Vikings offense and going up 14 at the half. But the tide turned and Cleveland State stormed back. They outscored DePaul 28-14 in the second half and suddenly the game was tied. It was gut check time for the Blue Demons. They didn’t let the momentum swallow them up and picked things up offensively.
DePaul made key plays and scored baskets at the most crucial points of the game to walk away with a win. As usual, Paul Reed was the best player on the court for DePaul. He gathered another double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Charlie Moore dropped 12 and it was once again Romeo Weems who stepped up for the Blue Demons. He had 14 points and five rebounds, his fifth game in a row scoring double digits. DePaul improved to 12-1 with the win. Now they have one more non-conference game left and it’s against a familiar foe.
The Northwestern Wildcats will be heading down to Wintrust Arena hoping to get back to winning ways. They have lost three of their last five games. They haven’t had back to back wins in a month and have already dropped two conference games. Their last three games have featured two Big Ten opponents in Purdue and Michigan State. They couldn’t get their offense going against Purdue, scoring just 16 points in the first half and losing 58-44. Against a top 25 team in Michigan State, they shot 42.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three.
Their offense held its own but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 21 points of Cassius Winston and the +24 rebounding advantage the Spartans had. Those two losses put the Wildcats at the bottom of the Big Ten standings so a win would be enormous for them. Especially over a quality team like DePaul. Northwestern has one more nonconference game left after this one, it will be against Hartford next Sunday.
How to watch, stream, and listen
Game Time: 8:30 PM ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul) || ESPN 1000 (Northwestern)
Stream: If you have CBS Sports in your cable package, you can stream the game here.
Odds: DePaul enters this game as a 6.5 point favorite (via Oddsshark.com) but it’s jumped down to -5.5 in some places.
Record ATS: DePaul (7-5) || Northwestern (4-6)
O/U: The over/under opened at 135 but it has jumped up to 136 at most places.
Last Time They Met
This will be the 35th meeting with DePaul leading the series 20-14. However, the Wildcats have been the more dominant team in recent memory. They have won four straight in this series including the one last season when the Blue Demons let a lead slip in the second half to lose 75-68.
By the Numbers
DePaul is ranked 64th via KenPom’s overall metrics. They have an adjusted offensive efficiency score of 103.6 (102nd in the country). Their defense has done much better this season and it reflects in the rankings. The Blue Demons defense has an adjusted defensive efficiency score of 91.5 (39th overall).
Sitting at 99th overall, Northwestern has an AdjO score of 101.9 (139th) and a AdjD score of 94.9 (76th in the country).
This will be a test for DePaul. Northwestern is better than their record has shown. They won't be put away so easily and if the second half version of DePaul shows up then the Blue Demons could be in trouble. But behind the play of Reed, Moore, and Weems, DePaul finally has a core group of players who can carry them. They don’t have to rely on their offense going through one guy anymore.
Outright winner: DePaul
ATS pick: DePaul (-6.5)