TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Saturday, January 1
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST
Spread: Providence -1
Total: O/U 140.5
To start the New Year, DePaul has an opportunity to destroy all of the narratives that have haunted them for the past decade. The narrative at hand is that DePaul starts off the season well, but when it comes to conference play, the Blue Demons just can’t compete with the other Big East teams. Those narratives have started to creep around after Wednesday’s loss at Butler. I know that the players have heard the narratives and definitely want to put them to rest. Saturday is as good of a time as any to do it.
The Friars come into this game as one of the hottest teams in the country. They are currently the only team with 5 Quad 1 wins. They achieved this feat in only 5 games. Some of the teams that Providence beat include Seton Hall, Texas Tech, and Wisconsin. On top of the praise for the 21st ranked Friars, head coach Ed Cooley has been included in many early National Coach of the Year discussions. This game will not be taken lightly by Cooley and Co., especially considering the fact that DePaul bounced the Friars out of the Big East tournament last year.
For the Blue Demons, there are a lot of negative trends that can be ended with a win on Saturday. The top trend that can be put to rest at the start of 2022, is DePaul’s 6 game losing streak to ranked teams. Their last win against a ranked team came at home almost 2 years ago against the then ranked no. 5 Butler Bulldogs.
Henry’s 3 Keys:
1. Limit Turnovers
- The reason that DePaul struggled heavily in Wednesday’s game against Butler, besides not having David Jones, was their abundance of turnovers. The Blue Demons committed 20 turnovers against the Bulldogs, resulting in 18 points. 28.5% of Butler’s points came from DePaul making careless mistakes. The Blue Demons simply cannot make nearly as many mistakes against what many are saying is the best team in the Big East.
2. Get JFL involved early
- DePaul’s star player Javon Freeman-Liberty has struggled against better teams this season. In DePaul’s two losses this season, Freeman-Liberty has shot a combined 6-25 from the field. Unless David Jones has another career day like he did earlier in the season against Louisville, JFL needs to have a bigger role from the get go. Whatever it may be, the offense needs to run through the star of the Blue Demons.
3. Start Slow
- I know that this sounds counterproductive, but it could be the most important piece of beating the Friars. In the last four games, DePaul has fallen into early deficits of at least eight points. To start, the Blue Demons should play with a slower tempo to limit the possible damage. They have outplayed their last four opponents after falling into early holes, so if they can hang around with the Friars at the start of the game they will have a much better chance of separating themselves towards the end.
I think that this will be a nailbiter from start to finish. Although last game was heartbreaking for Blue Demon fans, it must have also been some sort of a relief. DePaul is playing competitive basketball, and has shown continuously that they can hang with the better teams. With all of that being said, I think that this will be the game that kills the narrative mentioned at the beginning of this preview. A quick comment toward Rico Bosco from Barstool Bench Mob who said “Wipe the floors DePaul” repetitively, you still have time to take those words back.
DePaul wins, 69-65