Despite finishing in the bottom of the Big East standings and losing in the first round of the conference tournament, the DePaul Blue Demons find themselves in a postseason tournament.
Yup that’s right, you can pencil in DePaul in a bracket as they will be participating in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). The Blue Demons will be looking to snap a two game skid after they reeled off back to back wins against St. John’s and Georgetown. The Johnnies got their revenge in the Big East tournament however, beating DePaul 82-74. It was a rough night for the underdog Blue Demons, who needed a huge offensive game for the upset. They shot 43.1% from the field and 20% from deep as they were stretches where the Blue Demons couldn’t buy a bucket. Eli Cain scored 23 but Max Strus had an off game by his standards, only scoring 14. It didn’t help that St. John’s had five guys in double figures. But luckily for the Blue Demons, the CBI offers a chance to end the season on a positive note but they have their first test against a team from the MAC.
It was a good season for the Central Michigan Chippewas. In a conference like the MAC, which had 5 teams with 20 or more wins, CMU went 23-11 overall and 10-8 in conference play. This was good enough to be second in the MAC West division and a five seed overall, just missing out on a top four seed (and first round bye) by a single game. They made it all the way to the semi-finals of the MAC tournament, beating Western Michigan and Kent State in the process. But they ran into the buzzsaw of the conference in the Buffalo Bulls and lost 85-81. The Chippewas held a four point lead at halftime and even held the Bulls to a 18.8 shooting percentage from three. But they were eaten up on the glass 47-30 and it kept the Bulls in the game. It was a tough loss and like DePaul, CMU will look to be end the season a bright note. A deep run in the CBI would make this an even better season than the Chippewas and Keno Davis have had thus far.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 8 PM ET
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul) || 98.5 WUPS-FM (Central Michigan)
Odds: DePaul opens this game as a 7.5 point favorite but the line has then shifted down to -5 (via Oddsshark.com)
Record ATS: DePaul (14-15-1) || Central Michigan (20-10-1)
O/U: The over/under opened at 166 but it’s since moved up to around 167.5 or 168 depending on where you look (via Oddsshark.com)
Last Time They Met
This isn’t a matchup we don’t see often and one which hasn’t taken place in a long time. It’s been 8 years since these two schools last met and only the third meeting all time. DePaul is currently undefeated in this season series.
(Information via DePaul media guide)
What to watch for
Double trouble for the Chippewas
CMU is a very deep team with five guys averaging more than 10 points per game. Their two biggest threats are guards Larry Austin Jr. and Shawn Roundtree. With both scoring around 17 points per game, the duo play off each other pretty well. Roundtree is a great three-point shooter at 42.4% while that’s an area where Austin Jr. struggles in (17.1%). Devin Gage and Cain are going to have their hands full on defense and have to be careful in not letting them get hot early.
Offensive support for Strus and Cain
Like stated earlier, it was a very atypical game from Strus, especially for a guy who led DePaul in points per game all season. Like SJU, Central Michigan will probably focus on Strus and making sure he doesn’t get off clean shots. This is going to put a lot of pressure on Cain to lead DePaul but he can’t do it all on his own. Cain will keep DePaul competitive but if they want to play better, they need more balanced scoring. Gage stepped up against St. John’s and will have to do again. Guys like Femi Olujobi and Paul Reed, who scored a combined 14 points against the Johnnies need to help pick up the slack as well. We have seen DePaul score as a team before and it’s produced great results. If they want a deep run in the CBI, they need to recreate that magic again.