Villanova heads to the Windy City looking for their second Big East win | Villanova vs. DePaul Preview
Written by David Szczepanski on December 23, 2023
For the last time in 2023, Villanova takes the court for a Big East battle against DePaul in Chicago this afternoon at 4pm EST. After defeating #12 Creighton in Omaha on Wednesday in one of the biggest wins of the season, the Wildcats improved to 8-4 overall and 1-0 in Big East competition. They won their last two games. Villanova has proved their toughness and resiliency against tough teams and ranked teams this season, but they have struggled against below .500 teams and in games they should win on paper.
DePaul’s Record and Schedule
DePaul is one of those opponents that Villanova should easily win on paper with their talent and overall toughness of schedule. The Blue Demons have won just 2 of their first 10 games. Their most recent win came on December 9th against Louisville, 75-68. Their only other win of the season was an early season win against South Dakota, 72-60, on November 14th. Before their win against Louisville, DePaul lost five straight games. This will be the Blue Demons first Big East game of the 2023-24 campaign.
All-Time Series Info
The Wildcats have dominated the all-time series between those two rivals by winning 33 of the 42 contests, including their last meeting on February 8, 2023. However, the Wildcats split the two games last season in Big East play. Prior to that win last season by DePaul, Villanova won 22 consecutive games in the series.
Villanova’s Fantastic Defense
As for Villanova, their defense has been the biggest strength of this team. It keeps them in games and allows them to compete with some of the best teams in college basketball like Creighton. The Wildcats held Creighton to just 66 points, including overtime, on their home court on Wednesday night. The Bluejays averaged 85 points per game heading into that matchup against Villanova.
It’s a great matchup for Villanova’s defense because DePaul does not score many points. The Blue Demons average 68.5 points per game. They struggle at rebounding, especially offensive rebounding. As a team, they average just 31.7 rebounds per game. DePaul also averages almost 15 turnovers per game.
DePaul Blue Demons Preview + Leading Scorers
DePaul makes 44% of their shots from the field and 36% from behind the arc. But their turnovers and bad rebounding does not allow them to take many shots. The Blue Demons shoot just 73.5% from the charity stripe.
The Blue Demons’ leading scorer is Chico Carter, Jr. Carter Jr. averages 14 points per game with a 48% shooting percentage from the field and 42.6% from three. He is a transfer from South Carolina playing in his fifth season. Jeremiah Oden is their only other scorer averaging double-digits. Oden is averaging 13 points per game with 4.2 rebounds. He is their best free throw shooter and scored 22 points to lead DePaul to victory against Louisville. Oden is also a transfer as he played for Wyoming for the last three seasons.
DePaul’s other three starters are Da’Sean Nelson, Elijah Fisher, and Jaden Henley. K.T. Raimey will also play a lot of minutes for DePaul off the bench. Nelson and Raimey both played for the Blue Demons last season. Nelson averages 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He converts 43% of his shots from the field, but he struggles from behind the arc with just a 25% shooting percentage. Raimey averages 7.5 points per game. Fisher is a transfer from Texas Tech. In his sophomore season, he averages 9.6 points per game and is one of DePaul’s best rebounders. Henley is another transfer from Minnesota, and he averages just over five points per game. Henley is shooting just 34% from the field.
Villanova’s Keys to the Game
Villanova’s defense should excel against this struggling DePaul offense. However, Villanova’s offense should also score a decent amount of points this afternoon, too. The Blue Demons allow 76.3 points per game to their opponents. The Wildcats average almost 73 points per game.
It is unclear if Justin Moore will play/start in today’s game after he missed the last two games with a right knee sprain that he sustained on December 5th against Kansas State. Jordan Longino has been starting in his place. Obviously, it would be great for Villanova to get him back into the starting lineup today. However, I believe Villanova will find ways to create offense regardless of if Moore starts this afternoon. Eric Dixon scored 32 points against Creighton and Villanova won the paint battle. They should use a similar blueprint today against DePaul. The Wildcats have a large rebounding advantage, and they limit turnovers, especially in their last game against Creighton. Therefore, Villanova should win this game, but it is important for them to prove they can beat struggling teams, specifically in the Big East.