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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs DePaul Blue Demons

It’s not “must win,” but it’s definitely “can’t lose.”

DePaul v Xavier Getty Images

Marquette Golden Eagles (12-6, 3-3) vs DePaul Blue Demons (8-9, 1-4)

Date: Monday, January 15, 2018
Time: 8pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 22.3 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 5.8 rpg
Assists: Andrew Rowsey, 4.0 apg

DePaul Stats Leaders

Points: Max Strus, 18.2 ppg
Rebounds: Tre’Darius McCallum, 6.2 rpg
Assists: Eli Cain, 4.1 apg

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #42
DePaul: #104
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 82% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 85-75.

Tempo Free Fun: Before we get to some actual DePaul content here, we have to focus on the impact that this game is going to have on Marquette’s season.

I refer you back to December, when we took stock of Marquette’s NCAA tournament profile. At the time, we pointed out that the NCAA has adjusted how they grade out games against the RPI now. No more top 50/top 100/top 150 wins. Instead, a weighted system that gives a benefit to beating teams on neutral floors and on the road.

Here’s the top three categories or tiers, as a reminder:

  • Category 1: Home vs RPI 1-30, Neutral vs RPI 1-50, Road vs RPI 1-75
  • Category 2: Home vs RPI 31-75, Neutral vs RPI 51-100, Road vs RPI 76-135
  • Category 3: Home vs RPI 76-160, Neutral vs RPI 101-200, Road vs RPI 136-240

Using the NCAA’s RPI calculations through games played on January 12th, here’s Marquette’s records against each of the three categories:

  • Category 1: 2-5
  • Category 2: 3-1
  • Category 3: 1-0

As you can guess from Marquette’s 12-6 record, that makes them 6-0 against Category 4, which is literally every other game other than what’s listed above.

That brings us to DePaul..... and their RPI of #176. The cutoff for home games in the top three categories is 160. Yes, that means this is a Category 4 game. It will also be Marquette’s final Category 4 game of the season, as it is probably impossible for DePaul and Georgetown (#172) to dive below #240 between now and the end of February, when the Golden Eagles play those two on the road back-to-back.

I’m not going to tell you that Marquette can’t make the NCAA tournament if they don’t beat DePaul on Monday. They quite obviously can. However, if Marquette were to pick up their lone Category 4 L on Monday night.... well.... it’s probably going to take one extra Category 1 win in addition to the ones that MU already needs to get there. The problem arises where Marquette only projects to have six Category 1 games remaining. You tell me where the wins are here, because Marquette probably needs two already, and then wonder where MU could get one extra win if they need to balance a loss to DePaul: home games against Villanova and Butler, or road games against Xavier, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Creighton.

It’s not “must win,” it’s “can not lose.”

Anyway, onwards to DePaul.

Based on both the Adjusted Defensive Rating of 100.1 on KenPom and the rating’s national rank (#95), this is the best defensive Blue Demons squad since 2006-07. That was Jerry Wainwright’s second season, when DePaul finished 20-14 with a 9-7 record in Big East play. This is, of course, the most recent season where DePaul won 20 games.

Now that I’ve thrown you into a bit of panic, let me walk that back a little bit for you. DePaul is putting notches on their belt primarily in two defensive areas. The first is turnover rate, where they rank 80th in the country at popping it free from their opponents. There is a certain amount of freak chance here, as DePaul’s not necessarily a very good team in terms of steals. They rank just #166th in steal rate, and Tre’Darius McCallum is their only player who ranks in the top 500 nationally.

Their other main area of expertise is two-point defense. They’re really great at that, allowing under 46% shooting and ranking #54 in the country. The Blue Demons are doing this through mostly just sturdy defense, as they’re barely better at blocks than they are at steals in terms of rate, and no one is on the national radar in that department. With that said, the interior lineup of McCallum and Marin Maric is pretty impressive, so they may just be altering shots instead of blocking them.

That’s what they’re good at, which needed to be pointed out before I get to this: DePaul is REALLY BAD at defending three-pointers.

The Blue Demons are allowing opponents to shoot 37.5% on bombs this season, which is #284 in the country. There is a certain amount of random luck and chance when it comes to three-point defense, so the other component is what’s important here. DePaul is awful at allowing teams to let fly from long distance. Opponents are taking nearly 44% of their shots against DePaul from behind the arc, which has the Blue Demons ranked #330 in the country.

In other words: They are one of the 25 worst teams in the country in terms of letting opponents shoot three-pointers at will.

47% of Marquette’s shots this season have come from behind the arc, the 18th most in the country. The Golden Eagles are connecting on 41% of those shots, and that also ranks 18th in the country.

This has all the markings of being a complete and total bloodbath. Villanova has the second best three-point shooting percentage in the Big East behind MU in league play so far. When the Wildcats crossed swords with the Blue Demons in Chicago, Nova threw up 31 of their 70 shots from behind the arc and connected on 15 of them on their way to a 103-85 win. This would be a very good gameplan for Marquette to blatantly steal.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3, but with losses in two of the last three.

DePaul Last 10 Games: 5-5, with the losses all coming in the last seven games.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 74-46.

Current Streak: Marquette has won three straight and four of the last five, 10 of the last 12, 13 of the last 16, 16 of the last 20, and 23 of the last 29.

Follow Along On Twitter

@MarquetteMBB - The official Marquette account
@DePaulHoops - The official DePaul account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
@WeAreDePaul - Scout.com’s DePaul site
@becb_sbn - SB Nation’s Big East site
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter