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Villanova and DePaul meet in Chicago Wednesday evening

Can the Blue Demons stop their freefall? Can the Wildcats extend their winning streak?

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As the Big East season enters its home stretch, the conference lead is still up for grabs. Entering Wednesday, Seton Hall leads Creighton by one half game (The Pirates are 10-3 to Creighton’s 10-4, a result of Creighton playing Tuesday night and Seton Hall not playing until Wednesday), and the Pirates lead the Villanova Wildcats by a game and a half at the moment. Due to a Big Five game against Temple over the last weekend, Villanova has played just 12 conference games to Seton Hall’s 13 and Creighton’s 14. Obviously, it will all even out in the end, but the Wildcats road to the 1 seed is fairly simple: Keep winning.

After losing three straight Big East games to open February, Villanova got back on track last Wednesday with a 72-71 victory over Marquette, then picked up the aforementioned win over Temple to capture another Big Five title. Collin Gillespie had a career-high seven threes against Temple, and finished one point shy of a career-high with 29. It was another strong performance for the junior guard who has blossomed into Villanova’s leading scorer at 16.2 points per game this season.

In ‘Nova’s first meeting with DePaul this year, a 79-75 OT victory for the Wildcats, Gillespie led the team with 21 points, including six of Villanova’s 12 overtime points. DePaul also struggled to contain Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in that game, as the freshman finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

DePaul’s 12-1 start feels like it was a hundred years ago at this point, as the Blue Demons have won just one game in the past two months to drop their record to 13-12. It’s been a litany of things wrong for DePaul since the strong start, but it’s troublesome for the team to be clearly very talented but having just one win in the past two months. Is Dave Leitao’s seat starting to heat up? For DePaul to beat Villanova for their first time in the past 20 tries, Paul Reed and Charlie Moore will have to carry the Blue Demons. Reed and Moore combined for 39 points in the first meeting, and a similar effort could lead to a big win for DePaul.


How to watch

Time: 8 p.m. CT

TV: CBS Sports Network