By Andy Mac Williams, 2/3/2020

I've included a detailed look at XU-DU at my TWITTER ACCOUNT @mm_andymac. Bottom line-Tuesday night in Chicago will probably be close. DePaul sits 10th in the 10 team BIG EAST at 1-8 halfway through the schedule. The Blue Demons are 1-4 at home in the conference. The win came over two weeks ago 79-66 against Butler-rated #5 at the time. Closing games has been a DU issue. They blew two second half leads against Seton Hall. They lost in OT at Villanova and by 1 point to Providence. Last Saturday the Demons led Marquette in Milwaukee for 38 minutes before bricking late FTs and losing 76-72.

It's YEAR 5 for coach Dave Leitao in his second stint as DU's leader and DePaul is a composite 26-41 in games decided by 10 points or fewer.

X is 2-0 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago winning two close ones(65-62 in 2018 to clinch the regular season BE title outright and last season 74-65 w/ a huge comeback over the final 5 minutes).

Leitao's Blue Demons are 17-68 in BIG EAST games since 2015. DePaul posted a 12-1 non-conference record and almost cracked the Top 25s after wins over Iowa, Minnesota and Texas Tech but a loss to Buffalo blunted their momentum. The BIG EAST has been a mine field for them so far.

DU still sits #59 in NCAA NET-8th among BE teams-not too far behind Xavier-6th BE at #47. Ken Pom favors DePaul at home over Xavier 69-66. DU's NCAA path has little wiggle room. Best case they sneak in at 8-10 and/or win a couple games at BET in NYC. They sort of have to go at least 7-2 in the second half.

Xavier's stock is improved after last Saturday's 74-62 win at Top 25 Seton Hall. The Muskies road is rugged in the loaded BIG EAST IMHO needing to go 6-3 over the final 9 regular season games to come in 9-9. 8-10 might get it done if XU beats Villanova and gets at least one win in their two remaining games vs Butler. BY "IT" I mean one of 6 NCAA bids most predict will go to BIG EAST teams.

BIG EAST continues to be a competitive BEAST. Four(4) teams are rated this week in AP Top 25. Villanova(10), Seton Hall (12) and Butler (19) all lost a little ground after losing home games Saturday, but they stayed in the ratings. Creighton w/ a 4 game win streak popped in at #21. Marquette just missed at #27.

Monday's NETs are even more impressive w/ all 10 teams in the Top 76. Butler, Villanova and Creighton line up 12-14 w/ Seton Hall 16, Marquette 25, Xavier 47, Georgetown 48, DePaul 51, PC 64 and St Johns 76. Xavier may have trouble overhauling the NET Top 5, but 6th is probably good enough for the NCAA. Muskies need to string wins and climb into the NET 30s. That's safe NCAA at Large territory.

37 of Top 40 NET teams last season made the NCAA 68. NC State (33) and Clemson (37) went NIT because of weak non-conference schedules. Both were 9-9 in ACC. Texas(39) won the NIT and won a lucky OT game vs Xavier in Austin on a FT miss. UT had a weak non-conf plus 8-10 record in BIG 12.

DePaul has two GOOD BIGS Paul Reed and Jalen Butz. Both have encountered foul trouble recently. DU's BIG depth consists of slim 6-11 Frosh Nick Ogenda who will be very good, but gets knocked around vs veteran size. Reed is All BIG EAST #1 BE Rebounding(10.9?game) That's #9 NCAA w/ 16 double-doubles #4 NCAA.

XU's Tyrique Jones is right there w/ Reed(10.5 REBS) #2 BE, #16 NCAA. Ty is #3 NCAA in offensive boards( 4.23/game). He was picked National Player of the Week by ESPN's Jay Bilas and selected BE POW(16PPG-16.5 REBS-2.5 blocks and 78%FG in two games. Seton Hall w two 7-2 guys and one 6-11 totaled 22 rebounds vs X Saturday. Tyrique snared 19 by himself.

With Zach Freemantle starting now and Jason Carter adding a skilled 6-8 at small forward, Xavier should match-up well inside against DePaul. DU starts talent Top 75 Frosh Romeo Weems at SF(7PPG-5REBS). He's a leaper and shot blocker who seems underused offensively and foul prone on defense.

PG Charlie Moore is high usage(36 minutes/game) fast on fast a streaky scorer(16PPG-7 assists). He's a Chicago HS legend who started at Cal(PAC12) and played off the bench at Kansas. Who guards him for X? Naji Marshall had bottled up Markus Howard(MU) and Myles Powell(SHU) in the last two games. Will he take Moore? XU's Bryce Moore may get a chance to lock him up?

DU shoots FTs poorly(65%) right w/ XU there. X has done well getting to the line lately though(47 attempts last 2 games). Most FTs made might win this game assuming its close. DePaul is a big minus from 3 point range while XU sort of breaks even from outside the arc. DU's top outside threat is wing Jalen Coleman-Landis(18-61-29% BE). PG Moore is 11-45-24%).

The outside X factor for Xavier is Frosh Kyky Tandy(15-38-40%) off the bench. He totaled 32 points in Georgetown and Seton Hall wins and should get open looks vs DePaul.

Demons rely on post scoring and easy transition buckets. Threes and FTs are not DU's cup of tea so far in BIG EAST. Depth is a DePaul problem. Lanky Arkansas 6-7 transfer Darius Hall is hard working and affective(5PPG-5REBS).

Veteran guard Devon Gage(last season's starter) has not played much recently. Injury or dog house? He relieved Moore earlier and played w/ him to give Coleman-Lands a rest. Two Frosh now play a bit to spell the starting guards.

It's simple but hard! Just like Seton Hall Xavier needs to attack the rim on offense and protect the rim on defense. Pete Gillen always maintained that Free throws and rebounding won on the road. X has the rebounding part down now just make those FTs!!

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