TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Thursday, February 17th
Time: 10:00 p.m. EST
Spread: DePaul -2
Total: O/U 140.5
Late Thursday night, the (12-12, 3-11 Big East) DePaul Blue Demons will host their second game in 3 days. The visitor in tonight’s matchup is the (16-8, 8-5 Big East) Creighton Bluejays. Creighton has impressed many this season with one of the most inexperienced teams in the country. After being picked to finish 8th in the preseason conference poll, the Bluejays are currently hold the 4th best record in the Big East.
DePaul comes into this game fresh off of a heartbreaking loss to Butler last Tuesday night. The Blue Demons were in control for the majority of the game, up until the last couple of minutes. This was not the first time that DePaul was unable to finish a game in conference play. With that being said, the Blue Demons continue to grow on both ends of the court, and that is what should be looked at.
After a rough patch of not being able to score, DePaul has begun to rediscover its offensive groove. Against Butler, 5 DePaul players eclipsed double digit point totals. This well rounded scoring will keep the Blue Demons close against any Big East opponent. The next step, is finding someone that can go for 20+ points as well.
Usually that player is Javon Freeman-Liberty, who made his return to the court on Tuesday after missing the last 7 games with a groin injury. It was clear in his first game back that Coach Stubbs was trying to work him slowly back into the rotation. While this is taking place, someone needs to step up big time.
In the first matchup between Creighton and DePaul, the game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, DePaul dominated, outscoring the Bluejays 32-23. Although the Blue Demons played great defense in the first 20 minutes, they went stretches where was a cement lid on the rim. Sadly, that cement lid was not removed for the latter 20 minutes of the contest. Creighton would outscore DePaul 37-15 in that time span, and go on to pick up a nice 13 point home win.
Now, the tables have turned. DePaul gets home court this time and we get to see the Demons After Dark (credits to @DePaulHoops for that slogan...masterpiece). After a slump on the scoring end, David Jones has had at least 17 points in DePaul’s last 3 games. As I briefly mentioned, the Blue Demons need someone to step up in a big way with Javon still being worked back into the rotation, and David Jones is the obvious candidate.
As for the Creighton, its youth has been more than impressive this season. 3 different Bluejays (Ryan Nembhard, Arthur Kaluma, and Trey Alexander) have been named as the Big East Freshman of the Week. Out of these 3, Ryan Nembhard has emerged as the star. The Ontario native is 4th on the team in points per game (11.0) and leads the team in assists per game (4.2).
All in all, this has set up to be a great late night Big East matchup. With it being the only Big East game of the night, all eyes will be on Wintrust.
Creighton is currently the 2nd to last team in, in ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology. A win tonight will keep the Bluejays on the right side of the bubble, while a loss will most likely kick them out for the time being. However, this is a young team that has been inconsistent on the road. With the added pressure of being on the bubble and in a road environment, I think DePaul is going to eek this one out tonight. Look for David Jones to have a big game and for Javon Freeman-Liberty to look more like himself.
DePaul wins, 77-72