The Matchup: DePaul (4-1) @ Northwestern (5-1)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: Big Ten Network (2:30 PM CT)
Radio: WGN AM 720
Fun Fact: DePaul’s campus is actually closer to Welsh-Ryan Arena than to the All State Arena where the Blue Demons play their home games.
DePaul enters Saturday’s contest with a 4-1 record. The record while impressive is similar to Northwestern’s in that the Blue Demons haven’t exactly beaten a murder’s row of opponents. DePaul’s best win was 67-63 at what I believe is a good UIC team. I think that’s similar, but not quite as impressive as NU’s 73-59 win over previously undefeated Florida State.
DePaul actually stood at 4-0 before dropping a 77-67 game to Cal in Berkley. In that game the Blue Demons where led in scoring by 6-4 sophomore forward Dar Tucker with 21 points. Tucker leading the team in scoring probably didn’t surprise many close observers as Tucker has been DePaul’s leading scorer in four of his team’s five games. Tucker is by far the Demons best player. He was ranked the fifth best shooting guard in the national according to Rivals.com when he came out of high school and last year as a freshman was named to the Big East’s All-Rookie Team. Tucker currently averages 20.8 points per game, but his 27.5% three point percentage clearly reveals that the strength of his game is getting in to the lane and getting to the basket. NU would be advised to defend him the same way they did the Florida State guards who had similar skills.
DePaul’s other big threat is a big man in 6-10 250 lbs. Mac Koshwal who averages a double-double with 12.4 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per game. His only major weakness seems to be from the free throw line where he shoots only 56%. He’ll be another good challenge for the Wildcats young front line.
Wildcat fans should also look out for DePaul guards Will Walker and Jabari Curie. Walker averages 11.6 points per game and Curie is the only Blue Demon starter who shoots better than 35% from three. Interestingly enough, Curie is a poor free throw shooter at less than 50%. Overall, DePaul shoots less than 30% from three point range which might allow NU to use its 1-3-1 to cut off penetration. If NU does play the 1-3-1, look for DePaul’s Jeremiah Kelly to come off the bench to bomb threes. He leads the Demons with a 38.9% from three.
Prediction: I think NU’s win on Wednesday combined with DePaul’s loss the same day gives NU momentum going into this contest. I also like the fact that while it’s a short trip for DePaul, NU is still at home. Northwestern, 71 DePaul, 65.