Today at 8pm, the Villanova Wildcats will take to the Pavilion hardwood to face the DePaul Blue Demons (which may or may not be a rip off of Duke's nickname). The game will be broadcast locally in Philadelphia on WPHL (17) and will be feature Villanova basketball alumnus John Celestand providing color commentary.
America's largest Catholic university (by enrollment) is currently 7-7 on the season, with a somewhat notable win over St. Joes. DePaul has already lost to Pitt and Georgetown this season, it's only two Big East games. They have now lost 21 consecutive Big East regular-season games. DePaul is in the midst of yet another below-par season by Big East standards... heck, by CAA standards...
Villanova shouldn't have any trouble with this DePaul squad. They were the pre-season favorites to finish dead-last in the conference and are so-far living up to that prediction. In Villanova, PA, the only hope the Blue Demon's have is that the students are still on break and the crowd may be somewhat quiet.
In a recent poll of college basketball teams in Illinois, DePaul ranked 7th. Behind Illinois, Northwestern, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Loyola and Bradley.
Last year, our Wildcats let DePaul hang around when they met in Chicago. The game ended as a 74-72 win for Villanova. Senior guard Will Walker kept them in the game back then with his three-point shot, and he leads the team currently with 15.6 ppg. Junior big man Mac Koshwal isn't far behind with 14.7 ppg (he is also averaging 11 rebounds). Koshwal was the only DePaul player to put up double digits in their recent loss to Georgetown. No other player on the team is averaging double-digit points per game.
Hopefully Villanova will put DePaul out of their misery quickly tonight. It is highly doubtful that DePaul will be the team to break the Pavilion win-streak. A good defensive showing will guarantee a win, but the 'Cats will need to watch out for Walker and Koshwal. The Blue Demons have five players over 6'6", but only three of those players are averaging more than 10 minutes per game, so there is no real size advantage to speak of in this game.
The rumor on the internet is that Corey Stokes is experiencing some discomfort in his hamstring and may be limited or unable to play. If that is the case, expect Dominic Cheek and Taylor King to pick up the extra minutes.
If Walker gets hot shooting, I would expect to see more of the triangle-and-two defense that Coach Wright has been toying around with lately. Either way, while DePaul is certainly more talented than FDU, Penn, Delaware or Fordham, Jerry Wainwright's (pre-season superlative: most-likely to be fired) Blue Devils are far from the most worrisome team on the schedule.
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