Current track

Title

Artist


#6 seed Villanova faces historically bad #11 seed DePaul to begin the Big East Tournament | Villanova vs. DePaul Preview

Written by on March 13, 2024

In the Opening Round of the Big East Tournament tonight in New York, #6 Villanova prepares for a crucial matchup against #11 DePaul. The Wildcats absolutely must win this game against the Blue Demons to keep their March Madness hopes alive. Luckily for Villanova, DePaul is having a historically bad season. They are the first team in the Big East to lose all 20 conference games. The Wildcats must take care of business in this game before a potential huge battle against Marquette on Thursday night.

Villanova vs. DePaul on January 12th at the Finneran Pavilion.

Villanova is coming off perhaps their most heartbreaking loss of the season against Creighton on Saturday, 69-67. The Wildcats trailed by 24 points midway through the first half, and they came all the back to tie the game with less than 60 seconds left to go. In the final possession of regulation, the Bluejays’ Trey Alexander hit the game winner from the right side of the basket on a fade away jumper with just 0.2 seconds left. The Cats’ look to rebound from that performance and end their two-game losing streak.

All-Time Series Info

Villanova leads the all-time series against DePaul, 35-9, including sweeping the 2023-24 regular season series against the Blue Demons in blowout fashion. Coach Neptune is 3-1 against DePaul as Villanova’s head coach.

The Cats’ Sweep the Regular Season Series

The Wildcats completely dominated the first two matchups of the season. They won the first game in Chicago by a final score of 84-48. In early January, they also crushed DePaul at the Finneran Pavilion, 94-69. Villanova’s defense held DePaul to an average of just 58.5 points per game. Villanova is 16-5 when holding opponents to under 70 points this season. In both wins, the Wildcats shot over 50% from the field and found success from behind the arc. They also dominated the assists category with good ball movement against DePaul’s bad defense. Villanova also outrebounded DePaul this season, 76-49, in the two games.

DePaul Preview

DePaul has lost 19 consecutive games coming into the Big East Tournament. They are just 3-28 overall and 0-20 in Big East play. Their three wins have come against Chicago State, Louisville, and South Dakota. DePaul’s last win was on December 30th against Chicago State.

DePaul’s Weaknesses

The Blue Demons average just 65 points per game and defend poorly. They also have not won a contest away from home this season, and this game will take place at a neutral site at Madison Square Garden. In the middle of the season, the Blue Demons also fired head coach, Tony Stubblefield. Matt Brady is the interim head coach for DePaul.

The Blue Demons have a lot of weaknesses. After all, DePaul is ranked 315 of 362 team, according to Kenpom.com. As a team, they shoot just 42.5% from the field. They convert just 73% of their free throw attempts. The Blue Demons also average 13.8 turnovers per game. In addition to their struggling offense, DePaul does not rebound well to get second chance opportunities. They average just 29.5 rebounds per game. Villanova should easily win the rebounding battle tonight.

As previously mentioned, DePaul’s offense has definitely struggled this season, and that would be an understatement. However, their defense is probably their biggest weakness. In their last six games, the Blue Demons have allowed an average of 90.8 points per game. They have difficulties forcing turnovers and coming away with steals.

Solid Three-Point Shooting

DePaul’s only strength is their three-point shooting. As a team, they convert almost 34% of their shots from behind the arc. Their average leading scorer, Chico Carter Jr., is one of their most efficient three-point shooters at 36% on the season. Jalen Terry, a senior from Flint, Michigan, is their best three-point shooter at 45%.

DePaul’s Players to Watch

G Chico Carter Jr. (Senior, Columbia, SC): 11.3 ppg, averaged 12.5 points against Villanova in the two games this season, scored 39 points in his last two contests

F Da’Sean Nelson (Senior, Toledo, OH): 9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, averaged 15.5 points against Villanova this season, scored 11 points against St. John’s on March 5th

My Thoughts

Villanova is heavily favored to win this Big East Tournament game against DePaul. The Wildcats will not have to play their best game to defeat the Blue Demons, but they should use this game as an opportunity to prepare for Marquette and shake off the disappointment from the Creighton loss. Obviously, Villanova must win this game and they cannot overlook DePaul to get to Marquette, but the Wildcats are just  better in every category. They have more talent and should dominate tonight. Since 2013, Villanova is 18-4 in Big East Tournament games at Madison Square Garden.

It would be nice to see Villanova get a balanced scoring effort from their entire roster. However, some specific Villanova players to watch for in this game would be Eric Dixon, Hakim Hart, and Brendan Hausen. Dixon, who is the average leading scorer for Villanova with more than 16 points per game, has dominated all season long. He does not have to be the main scoring option tonight for Villanova, but he is trying to score at least ten points for the 14th straight game. Dixon is always consistent and gives his best effort on both sides of the basketball. Hart scored 20 points in the first game against DePaul. Villanova needs bench scoring to make a run in the Big East Tournament, and if Hart can get his rhythm back, it would be great for this Villanova squad and bench. Hart was scoreless in 18 minutes against Creighton on Saturday. In very similar fashion to Hart, the Wildcats would love to get Hausen firing again from behind the arc. He has scored just six points in his last two games with a below 16% three-point percentage. When Villanova was playing their best basketball in February, Hausen was a main scoring option for Villanova, specifically with his three-point shooting. Overall, a balanced scoring effort, good defense, and great rebounding will be what I am watching for in this game against DePaul prior to Villanova hopefully matching up against Marquette tomorrow.

WXVU’s Live Coverage of Villanova vs. DePaul TONIGHT

WXVU has live coverage of Villanova’s complete run in the Big East Tournament. Our coverage of the 1st Round Matchup against DePaul begins tonight at 8:30pm with the pregame show. Tipoff is scheduled for 9pm at Madison Square Garden. You can also follow @wxvu.sports on Instagram to stay up to date with broadcasting information.