DePaul's hot start to conference play has by no means flown under the radar. Their 3 Big East wins equal their total from all of last season. The school has never had a 3-0 conference record since joining the Big East. Those win have arguably come against the worst teams in the conference, but by no means is their 2015 stretch unimpressive. Their most recent game was a 10-point victory on the road vs. Creighton.
You have to go back January 3rd, 2008 to find the Blue Demons' last win over `Nova. In the Big East opener, a 5-7 DePaul team shocked the 17th-ranked Villanova squad at home by a score of 84-76. Scottie Reynolds went 4-12 from the field in that one. The Wildcats hope to avenge their ancestors.
First see where Billy Garrett Jr. is
BGJ5 (I made that up) is the face of the Blue Demons. While just a sophomore, head coach Oliver Purnell has made it clear he expects Garrett to effectively lead their team. Villanova has a lot of upper classmen on the roster, meaning they have more experience than him. BGJ5 is very talented, but when he's off his game the team has few other outlets.
This is the game where Ryan Arcidiacono has to redeem himself as a perimeter defender. In the Wildcats' last game D`Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene IV combined for 39 points on 14-29 shooting. The game before that Sterling Gibbs shot 8-20 to get 20 points. Containing Garrett would certainly be notable.
Next, keep tabs on Forrest Robinson
Robinson took the world by storm on Wednesday when he started 5-5 from the floor, all from behind the arc, to aid DePaul to a 20-5 lead. He finished that game 7-11 (6-9) for 20 points with 9 rebounds. Against Xavier he scored 17 on 6-12 shooting. He has reached double digits on a few other occasions this season, however the last two games are most notable.
Two observations about Robinson. For one, approximately 75% of his shots come from behind the arc even though he is 6'10". `Nova defenders will have to realize that there is little chance he'll look to drive. Also, Forrest has had foul trouble in many games this season. In the three conference games he has gotten 4, 3, and 4 fouls. Guard U should look to eliminate him in that way.
Don't forget Tommy Hamilton IV!
NOTE: This is the second straight game where Villanova has faced someone "the fourth." Isn't that something?
DePaul is NOT a very good rebounding team; they rank 317th in the country with 31 RPG. Villanova is only 136th nationally with 36 RPG, but those totals have been rising thanks to Daniel Ochefu.
Villanova's Daniel Ochefu in Big East play: 14.0 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG. Playing like the best big man Jay Wright has ever had at Villanova.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 7, 2015
You do not want to give DePaul second chance opportunities, and putting Chef on the Blue Demon's leading rebounder will surely decrease those chances. DePaul's Myke Henry is the second leading rebounder, but has not been that big of a factor for them this year.
Ochefu has double-doubles in 3 of his last 4 outings, but more importantly hasn't commit more than 3 fouls in Big East play. Hopefully the team realizes that they should look his way more on offense, and we should see yet another double-double from the big man.