TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Saturday, February 27th
Time: 5:00 p.m. EST
Spread: DePaul +3
Total: O/U 152
On Saturday afternoon, the (13-14, 4-13) DePaul Blue Demons are back at Wintrust Arena to host the (15-12, 7-9) St. John’s Red Storm.
The main storyline coming into this game for the Blue Demons is that the push for the Big East tournament 9 seed is still alive. How does this happen and why does this matter? Well, those are two great questions.
The 9-seed is a two-team race between Butler and DePaul. The Bulldogs are in full control of the outcome. If Butler can win its last game, it would lock itself into the 9 seed because of the head-to-head record with DePaul. In this last game, KenPom predicts the Bulldogs to lose at home to Villanova by 9. Assuming Butler doesn’t pull off the upset, what would DePaul have to do to pass Butler?
The Blue Demons would have to win their last 3 games in order to leap past Butler in the Big East standings, starting against St. John’s. DePaul’s final two games, after a battle with St. John’s, are at home against Marquette, then on the road against UConn. Why is winning out so important?
The 9 seed would ensure that if DePaul went on a magical run, it would not have to face Villanova until the championship game. Out of all the teams in the Big East, the Wildcats have been the one that has completely dominated the Blue Demons. This would also mean that if DePaul got out of the first round, it would play Providence in the quarterfinals. In the last matchup between these two programs, DePaul took Providence into overtime at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
First, to keep these hopes alive, the Blue Demons need to hold serve against the Red Storm at home. In game 1 at Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s pounced on DePaul out of the gate. Led by a 24 point performance from Javon Freeman-Liberty, DePaul was able to weather the storm, but in the end, it was not enough.
The Red Storm won that high-scoring matchup 89-84 back in early January.
In the last two months, it has been a roller coaster of a season for both teams. Now, St. John’s is on the bubble, while DePaul is trying to play spoiler.
For that to happen today, the Blue Demons will need another group scoring effort like last game against Georgetown. That starts with star Javon Freeman-Liberty but continues with solid contributions from the big men (Brandon Johnson, Nick Ongenda, and Yor Anei). In order to win, two out of those three listed players need to score double-digit points.
On the opposite end, DePaul needs to limit junior Julian Champagnie. The Red Storm’s star player had a career-high-scoring night when the Blue Demons came into town. Forcing the St. John’s supporting cast to step up, which has been shaky at times, would be ideal for DePaul.
St. John’s is a solid team but has definitely fallen behind expectations. With a late-season tournament push, DePaul is going to get the Red Storm’s best shot. Regardless, I think that the Blue Demons have been playing their best basketball of the entire season. At this level, I honestly think that they can beat the majority of the teams in the Big East. In another high-scoring round 2, I think that Javon Freeman-Liberty will have one of his best performances of the season to propel DePaul to its second straight win.
DePaul wins, 80-73