#12 Marquette Golden Eagles (16-3, 5-1 Big East) vs DePaul Blue Demons (11-6, 3-3 Big East)
Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Time: 7:30pm Central
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Markus Howard, 24.4 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 6.9 rpg
Assists: Markus Howard, 4.1 apg
DePaul Stats Leaders
Points: Max Strus, 18.3 ppg
Rebounds: Paul Reed, 8.0 rpg
Assists: Eli Cain, 3.9 apg
Current KenPom.com Rankings
KenPom Projection: Marquette has an 85% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 81-69.
Tempo Free Fun: One of our beloved podcast hosts Patrick Leary posted a question last week on Twitter: Which Big East team do you dislike the most? After The Reformation, Marquette hasn’t really established that (L)isconsin-tier conference rival, so the question was met with an array of answers.
My answer is officially DePaul.
No, I don’t consider them a rival, because they suck. I just hate them. I hate that dumb arena, both the old one and the new one. I hate that they designed their campus similar to the way God designed the Hawaiian Islands. I hate that they exist in the Big East just to be a sinkhole for any respect the conference has gained over the years. I hate that my hatred of them will never be able to be manifested through any fun traditional rivalry banter. No one will ever circle the calendar for “DePaul Day” or camp out weeks before the game or do anything that remotely resembles anticipation. All we get to do is sit around nervously hoping that we aren’t the victim of DePaul’s annual Out Of Nowhere Win Against A Good Team. They’re the biggest stain on Chicago rivaled only by the Cubs and refusing to put ketchup on hot dogs.
The Blue Demons come into the year sucking yet again, but not as much. This was also the case last year, when they finished 99th in KenPom. That also was their first double digit KenPom finish since 2007. I was in sixth grade that year. I owned a shirt that said “I’m Definitely Up To Something.” This year is a little higher than their normal average, and they are on a hot streak at the moment, but they’re still 109 in KenPom, the lowest ranked team in the entire Big East. Don’t be like Seton Hall and Don’t Lose To DePaul.
They have a total of two (2) strengths as a team. One is shooting from inside the arc. That could cause issues if Ed Morrow is inhibited after playing 13 minutes against Providence. However, Theo John has made tremendous strides as a defender this year and Joey Hauser was able to contain Jessie Govan last week, so I’m not too worried about that. The other strength is rebounding in general. It’s not East Tennessee State levels of rebounding, but it’s something. Marquette is slightly worse in that area, but it’s not enough of an advantage to DePaul to really make that much of a difference. If Marquette has to check DePaul’s strength on the defensive glass by making all of the shots to avoid rebounds in the first place, well, that’s just a burden I’m willing to bear.
For big weaknesses, they all exist outside the arc. They shoot 32.6% as a team, and that’s while ranking 290th in percentage of field goals that are three pointers (3PA/FGA). They’re very selective with their threes and still can’t make them. Defensively they rank 316th in 3PA/FGA, meaning they’re letting teams get wide open three pointers. With Marquette heating up from deep recently, this should be easy to take advantage of. DePaul wants the game to be won and lost in the paint, so Marquette shouldn’t play into this game since they normally don’t anyway.
I’m going to type out a list of numbers now. There is a pattern in these numbers and I want you to guess what that pattern is. 70, 57, 87, 95, 92. I will reveal the pattern at the end of the article. First I want to go over some of the key DePaul players.
Let’s talk about Max Strus. He is DePaul’s star in the loosest sense of the term and is often compared to Sam Hauser because they are both tall-ish white players in the same conference that rely heavily on catch-and-shoots. Strus has a teensy bit more mobility than Sam, which led to some NBA whispers last year, but he’s not nearly the shooter that the Elder Hauser is, shooting a Perfectly Fine 35% from deep.
Come to think of it, his whole stat line is just...good. I truly don’t mean that to be a negative at all, but it’s just that there isn’t much that he particularly excels in, except limiting turnovers. I guess he’s a pretty decent post-up player, but there are other guys like Femi Olujobi and Paul Reed that do it much better and far more often. There’s just nothing there that screams First Team All Big East or anything.
I’m also trying to find an obvious flaw in his game and coming up flat except Synergy lists him as “Poor” in pick-and-rolls. That’s it. There’s nothing you can underline as a reason for him being a complete fraud either. Strus exists in this sparsely charted space where he hasn’t gravitated towards one particular skill to take advantage of defenders, but there’s also no way to take advantage of him. Normally you see this with freshman that have no film on them and little experience, but Strus is a star senior and DePaul’s most widely used player. There’s an impasse of skills going on. He’s the fulcrum of college basketball. His offensive skill and NCAA Division I defense rest in perfect balance. All this is to say that he’ll probably have a good game, but I don’t see him dragging the team to victory by himself.
The other two players that intrigue me are the aforementioned Paul Reed and Femi Olujobi. If you squint really hard, and then huff a bunch of glue, you can see a little bit of Tyler Hansbrough in Femi. Both are undersized forwards that oil their buns* with great footwork down low to convert on post up opportunities and/or get to the foul line. Reed is tall and lanky in a way that makes you think he’s a good shooter but oh god is he not a good shooter. Those guys always deceive me, especially since Paul is also really skilled in the post. I’d credit Dave Leitao for his keen eye and development skills, but finding two legitimate post players was absolutely pure luck for him. Don’t Lose To DePaul.
*Pro-tip: Instead of toasting bread and trying to spread hard butter on it afterwards, put olive oil on it beforehand. So much better that way.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Marquette has some trouble defending down low, since DePaul will want to feed the low block and entry passes aren’t something Marquette tries to halt to any end. What we can’t have is foul trouble from Theo and Ed. Our Milkman Matt Heldt aka Yung Milkman just isn’t quick enough to keep up with those guys. That’s about the only way the Blue Demons can win this game, which just pisses me off because I know that the Big East refs will somehow find a way to make that happen.
Remember that series of numbers that I listed off a few paragraphs back? Those were DePaul win probabilities in the second half of games that they ended up losing, as in “They had a 95% chance of beating Boston College with 5 minutes and change to go, and lost anyway.” Don’t freak out if they get hot early, and Don’t Lose To DePaul. This Kansas City Chiefs fan’s heart wouldn’t be able to take much more heartbreak this week.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 9-1, thanks to those lousy jerks at St. John’s.
DePaul Last 10 Games: 6-4, but they’ve won three of the last four.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 76-47.
Current Streak: Marquette has won five out of the last six games against DePaul, with the Blue Demons’ win coming last year at Wintrust Arena. If we dive a bit deeper, Marquette has won six of the last eight and 12 of the last 15. Marquette has won 15 of the last 16 meetings in Milwaukee, with the “Luke Fischer fouled Billy Garrett” game as the lone outlier.
Follow Along On Twitter
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
@MarquetteMBB - Official MU account
@DePaulHoops - Official DePaul account
@becb_sbn - our SB Nation friends that follow the whole Big East
@WeAreDePaul - 247 Sports’ DePaul site
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat writer
@cf_gardner - The Athletic MU beat writer