Providence, riding high with a 7 game win streak, looks to sweep the DePaul Blue Demons to potentially secure a Top 10 match-up ahead of hosting Villanova in an epic match-up on Tuesday. DePaul is riding a 2 game win streak after beating Xavier over the weekend and Georgetown on Wednesday.
We break down the game below and keys to securing a victory.
Keys to Victory
1. Avoid the Dreaded “Look Ahead” – With the biggest game of the year ahead of the Friars on Tuesday, Providence cannot look past DePaul. DePaul is arguably playing their best ball of the season. Even if Jahvon Freeman-Liberty is can’t go, DePaul have the weapons to give the Friars fits. David Jones, who had a rough outing in the first matchup against PC, just had the program’s first triple-double against Georgetown. The Demons also ripped off a 26-0 run in that game without JFL. The Dunk is sold out Saturday, so I am hopeful that the crowd helps bring the energy to carry the Friars. I hope that Cooley stresses the importance of this game in terms of carrying momentum into Tuesday, securing a Top 10 ranking, and maintaining the top spot in the Big East.
2. Minaya Needs to Lock Down the Wing – DePaul, although being close to the basement of the Big East, has some of the best wing play in David Jones and Jackson Freeman Liberty. The tandem average 36 points a game, and it is imperative that Minaya does his best to lock down whomever he is guarding. Taking away one of them and forcing the other to carry the team plays into Providence’s hands nicely. In the first match-up, DePaul only scored 53 and limited this tandem to 9-25 shooting from the floor.
3. Play Good Defense, and the Rest will Sort Itself Out – DePaul is 9th in Big East in Assists/Turnover Ratio in Big East, which calls out two things. First, a lot of the points generated come on 1 on 1 opportunities. Secondly, it shows a general indifference towards taking care of the ball. If Providence is engaged defensively, led by Minaya, they should win with ease via forcing difficult shots and scoring baskets in transition due to turnovers. DePaul tends to shoot itself out of games, and Providence’s tenacity on defense should lead this to happen.
4. All Hands on Deck on the Glass – DePaul is a lengthy and athletic team, especially in the frontcourt. Johnson and Ogenda are formidable, but where DePaul really excels is having its wings rebound. Jones and JFL lead the team in rebounds, which is a rarity in college basketball. It must be a team effort for the Friars on the glass. Limiting second chance opportunities limits the possibility of an upset.
BOC – I think Providence may be down going into half in this one, but ultimately the crowd’s enthusiasm leads the Friars to win a tight one 78-71.
Crier – The Friars have a huge opportunity here to position themselves for NCAA tournament seeding and their first Big East regular season crown in school history. That takes a hit if they look past DePaul, that’s why I see them being prepared for this one. Look for a bounce back game for David Jones but the Friars ability to own the paint and play lock down defense should be too much for DePaul. PC wins 80-72.