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Villanova Basketball 2023-24 game preview: DePaul Blue Demons

The Wildcats will look to bounce back and go for the season series sweep.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Villanova Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

After taking its first loss in conference play, the Villanova Wildcats will look to bounce back against DePaul, before hitting the road and beginning a tough Big East stretch.

The Wildcats previously beat DePaul back on Dec. 23 in a dominant 84-48 victory.

Villanova enters Friday night’s contest with a 10-5 overall record and a 3-1 showing in Big East play.

As for the Blue Demons, they’re struggling. They are 3-12 this season and winless through four Big East games. Three of their four losses in Big East play was by 20 or more points.

Friday’s game is set to tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET at Finneran Pavilion.

Bad to worse

DePaul is searching for its first win of 2024, but with the ‘Cats coming off of a loss, ideally, the Blue Demons won’t catch Villanova sleeping.

The Blue Demons rank below 200th in nearly every team category according to KenPom, with a struggling offense complemented by lackluster defense and rebounding.

Tony Stubblefield’s third season has been a nosedive from his first two, although DePaul had been hit hard by several departures and outgoing transfers over the last couple of years.

DePaul’s lone wins this season were against South Dakota, Louisville and Chicago State. Since Nov. 19, eight of their nine losses were by double figures. They hung in tight with Georgetown last Saturday in a 68-65 loss, before getting blown out at home by Creighton on Tuesday.

When the ‘Cats last played DePaul, Villanova put together one of its more complete performances on both ends of the court and dominated the Blue Demons.

Chico Carter Jr. leads the Blue Demons at 11.9 points per game, 3.2 assists and 4.0 assists per game, but he’s been hit-or-miss in recent outings. Da’Sean Nelson, who played well in the Blue Demons’ win over Villanova last season, has consistently scored in double figures in each of their last five games.

Jeremiah Oden is their last player averaging in double figures, scoring 10.5 points per game, and the stretch-big is knocking down a team-best 41.4% from deep.

Get-right game

Villanova gets a chance to reset and get back on track after taking that loss to St. John’s. KenPom projects Villanova at a 96% favorite to win, and it predicts the Wildcats to win by 20 points.

It’s only going to get tougher for the ‘Cats after this game, with road trips to Marquette, St. John’s and Butler on deck, plus a home game against UConn next Saturday.

Another 84-48 win would be nice, but looking forward to seeing some old-fashioned hustle and hard-nosed effort on both ends of the court. How many basketball teams don’t have a single player that averages more than 4.5 rebounds per game?

Nelson is the Blue Demons’ top rebounder at 4.3 per game. Expect the ‘Cats to be fired up, they should feast on the glass and out-hustle the Blue Demons, and it will set the foundation for what should be a bounce-back win.