TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Saturday, February 27th
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST
Spread: DePaul +2
Total: O/U 150.5
Late Wednesday night, the (14-14, 5-13) DePaul Blue Demons will play their last home game of the season, as the (18-10, 10-7) Marquette Golden Eagles come to town.
(All of the seeding talk from this point on is about the Big East tournament, not the NCAA tournament). As of today, March 2nd, the push for the 9 seed is still alive for DePaul. The impossible is starting to seem possible.
Let’s rewind a few weeks to February 15th. Butler had just beat DePaul off of a game-winning banked in 3 from Simas Lukosius. This win would propel the Bulldogs to 6-9 in conference play, and drop the Blue Demons down to 3-11. At that point, all things pointed to DePaul being stuck with the 10 seed.
Since that cold Tuesday night, Butler has lost 5 straight (now 6-13) and DePaul has split its last 4 games (now 5-13). DePaul only needs to win 2 more games to leap past Butler in the standings. But for now, let’s just focus on tonight.
Game 1 of this season’s series at Fiserv Forum was a tale of two halves. The first half was a close game that was led by guards Javon Freeman-Liberty and Greg Elliott. After the first 20 minutes, the once-close game got away from the Blue Demons. Marquette outscored DePaul 43-33 in the 2nd half, en route to an 87-76 victory.
The most positive thing to come out of this game for the Blue Demons was the blossom of forward Yor Anei. The SMU transfer put up a season-high 16 points along with 11 rebounds. Anei has eclipsed double-digit points in DePaul’s last two games, making the most out of his opportunities.
In round 2, look for a star-studded matchup at the forward position between David Jones and Justin Lewis. Both of these players have cases for Big East Most Improved Player of the Year. In what seems to be another high-scoring affair, these two star players will shine. This game has a similar feeling to when Jones and Ron Harper Jr. traded blows with one another in the Gavitt Games.
Besides Lewis, DePaul will need to limit the scoring from Marquette outside the perimeter. Last time around, the Golden Eagles made DePaul pay, by sinking 11 of their 24 attempted 3 pointers.
As previously mentioned, the star Blue Demon tonight will be David Jones. After two games off with an ankle injury, Jones torched St. John’s, scoring 24 points. Along with Javon Freeman-Liberty, David Jones is one of the most talented scorers in the Big East. If DePaul can stifle Marquette’s shots from behind the arc and score 70+ points, which I think it will do, it will win this game.
DePaul wins, 78-74