The DePaul Blue Demons came into their first meeting with Villanova sporting a 10-8 record and have proceeded to lose six in a row. It hasn't been an easy stretch, with Xavier, Providence, Georgetown and Creighton occupying the majority of that losing streak.
Villanova leads the all-time series with DePaul 17-8, with the Blue Demons going 2-9 versus the Wildcats while they have been in the Big East. Villanova has won the last seven games in the series.
There was a stretch this season where DePaul looked likely to rise out of the conference cellar for the first time since a Big East patch was added to their uniforms. The Blue Demons have since lost four straight and suffered the loss of star forward Cleveland Melvin, who is no longer enrolled at the Chicago school. Melvin, who averaged 16.y ppg and 47% from beyond the arc, was suspended by the school for some rules infraction, and chose to leave campus as a consequence.
That suspension leave them with Brandon Young as their leading scorer, with an average of 14.5 ppg. Young also adds four assists per contest. He will need a lot of help from Billy Garrett, Jr., who is the Blue Demons' now-second-leading scorer with 11.7 ppg and 3.4 apg. Tommy Hamilton IV is probably the Demon's most dangerous shooter, with a 41.5% average from deep, though he averages 8.8 ppg.
DePaul is dead last in the conference in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Those ratings haven't yet adjusted for Melvin's departure, however. The loss of their key big man should cost the the Blue Demons some offensively, though it remains to be seen how they will match up defensively without him in the fold. Regardless, the defense won't likely improve enough to cause much trouble to the 8th-best offense in the nation.
Villanova should be able to handle the Blue Demon on the road with a bevy of offensive options to go to. The Cats are 24th overall in points scored per game and have three players averaging double-digit points for the season, while Daniel Ochefu has performed well in recent games, scoring in double digits in a few recent contests.
Meanwhile, with a rematch against Creighton awaiting on Sunday, Villanova has to avoid looking past the Blue Demons. While the Demons may be down right now, they are not so devoid of talent that they are unable to take advantage of an opponent who didn't take them seriously. The Wildcats must be fully prepared for whatever DePaul may bring to the table. Things were close in the first half during their initial meeting this season, so on the road, the Wildcats should take extra care to be ready for their game in Chicago.
Oliver Purnell started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at ODU in 1975. From there he became an assistant coach at Maryland from 1985-1988. In 1989 Purnell became the coach of Radford University where Purnell is credited with one of the biggest one year turnarounds, going from 7-22 in his second year, to 22-7 in his third year. Next Purnell went back to his alma matter, ODU, for 3 years until he decided to move on to coach Dayton for 9 years. Purnell lead the flyers to two NCAA Tournament appearances.
After the Flyers, Purnell was hired to be the coach of Clemson University in the ACC. For 7 years Purnell coached that team to 3 NIT appearances along with 3 straight NCAA appearances. Currently Purnell has been coaching at DePaul for 3 and 1/2 years where he has amassed 40-72 record. With 3 more wins, DePaul will have the most wins ever under Purnell, 13.
In his playing days, Purnell played for the ODU Monarchs from 1972-1975.
In addition to the previously-named actor John C. Reilly and X-Files star Gillian Anderson, both of Chicago's "allegedly" corrupt Mayors named Daley were graduates of the nation's largest Catholic University. They also count among their own, notable Georgian figure skater Elene Gedevanishvili.
The Alumni Association is hosting a pre-game meetup at the Renaissance Hotel O'Hare in the lobby bar. The meet-up will begin at 4:30 PM local time.
Colorado: 6:00 PM, The Irish Hound, 575 At. Paul St, Denver, CO
Dallas-Forth Worth: 6:00 PM, Nodding Donkey, 5600 SMU Blvd, Dallas, TX
Houston: 6:00 PM, BlackFinn American Grille, 1910 Bagby Street, Houston, TX
Long Island: 7:00 PM, Changing Times, Bay Shore
Orange County: 5:00 PM, Auld Dubliner Tustin, 2497 Park Avenue, Tustin, CA