Slump-Buster DePaul is Coming to Town and It Couldn’t Come at a Better Time

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Let’s be honest; the Bearcats played like crap against Rutgers. Actually to say that is an insult to ‘crap’ everywhere. Thankfully UC can take solace in the fact that they will be playing by far the worst Big East team in recent years on Saturday. The Blue Demons have fallen off a cliff since leaving Conference-USA. A once respectable program has been a national laughing stock after a series of bad coaching hires and misguidance from the athletic department while in the Big East. DePaul seems to have made at least made an attempt at righting the ship with the hiring of Oliver Purnell but climbing out of the Big East basement is easier said than done (just ask Mick Cronin).

But that’s not really Cincinnati’s problem. Right now the Bearcats are focused on getting back to their winning ways after a tough three-game stretch that is on the verge of taking the life out of what has been a pretty good season. To make a second-straight trip to the Big Dance in March starts with a win tomorrow.

Key Numbers

DePaul’s offense and defense is like comparing night and day. It’s really quite astonishing how the Blue Demons seem to put up big numbers (75 pts per game) but constantly lose. What might explain both the high scoring and number of losses is DePaul’s defense which has given up 81.5 points per game in Big East play. A big reason is that they don’t guard the boards very well ranking 266th grabbing offensive rebs and 336th on the defensive end. Giving teams extra possessions is always a formula for failure.

Players to Watch

– Cleveland Melvin (#12): Like Rutgers the Blue Demons are extremely young with nine freshmen and sophomores filling the ranks. Melvin is a true freshman that has been leading DePaul in time on the floor and points per game. He’s a gritty power forward that doesn’t mind grinding away in the paint or slashing to the rim from the outside. He also leads the team in rebounds and can take advantage of mismatches if he finds himself being covered by a guard. Cincinnati’s forwards will have to make sure they stick to him closely and not allow him to get easy buckets.

– Sean Kilpatrick: UC’s leading scorer has been smarting from a bruise on his hip that he reinjured in the West Virginia game. It’s no wonder that his production has decreased since that game and the Bearcats have thus lost three straight. But Killa should be at-or-near 100% for the first time in weeks and his play will take pressure off of Dion, Cash, and Parker to make the big shots from the outside. That’s the idea, anyways.

– Yancy Gates: Like I mentioned, DePaul sucks at rebounding and Gates should be chomping at the bit to play tomorrow night. The Blue Demons are also very young in the post and Gates’ edge experience-wise should work in his favor. He’s been doing well on the defensive end especially and that is one of DePaul’s biggest weaknesses. Don’t be surprised if he’s just a couple rebs short of double-digits by halftime.

Final Thoughts and Prediction

It’s an unwritten rule in the Big East that you don’t lose to DePaul. There are grounds to kick you out of the conference if you especially lose to DePaul AT HOME. Cincinnati has a lot on it’s side; veterans, scoring options, rebounders. But the Bearcats can’t sleep on any team in the Big East even if it is the Blue Demons. But I think after three-straight losses Mick Cronin and these players have had enough and want to get back to their winning ways. They won’t lose tomorrow. I hope:

Cincinnati: 76

DePaul: 67