#6 Villanova Wildcats (21-2) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (10-14)
When: Wednesday, February 12, 8 p.m.
Where: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
DePaul’s Previous Season Record: 11-21, Lost to Rutgers in Opening Round of Big East Tournament
Key Players for DePaul: #20 Brandon Young (6-4, 192) Sr., G; #2 Tommy Hamilton IV (6-10, 284) Fr., C; #5 Billy Garrett Jr. (6-5, 194) Fr., G
Scouting Report: The last time these two met, Villanova simply outplayed DePaul en route to an 88-62 win. DePaul’s loss at the Pavilion marked the beginning of a series of unfortunate events. They have not recovered since, entering Wednesday night with six straight losses. Along the way, they lost some players to injury and sickness. Their star player Cleveland Melvin, has not played in the last four games due to a suspension. Time will tell if the suspension will be lifted when the Wildcats come to town, but if so, they will have one of their key pieces back. Melvin has been starting games for DePaul since his freshman year and has been one of their leading scorers ever since. This season he is averaging 16.7 points per game and also has a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game. Should he return on Wednesday, the Blue Demons will have a threat that can score from the perimeter or inside. While Melvin has been out, Brandon Young has been receiving most of the load. Young has been on the team just as long as Melvin, and has been putting up similar numbers. This season he is averaging 14.5 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 4.0 assists per game. Young will chuck up a lot of threes, but does not convert a lot of them (24.0% three point shooting percentage). He can drive the ball inside. Defensively, he plays pretty good defense on the perimeter, averaging 1.7 steals per game. He has stepped up since Melvin was suspended, putting up double digits in every game since and leading the scoring for DePaul in three of the last four games. Billy Garrett Jr. is the team’s best free throw shooter, converting 83% of his attempts. The freshman has been doing well for the Blue Demons in his first year, averaging 11.7 points per game. Another freshman that is producing well is Tommy Hamilton IV. He is the top rebounder now that Melvin is out, he averages 5.4 rebounds per game. Other players to watch for are R.J. Curington and Durrell McDonald. Curington had a great game against Providence where he had 22 points and 5 rebounds. He was kept pretty quiet in the previous game at Creighton, where he only had 2 points. McDonald is like several other players on the DePaul bench, they provide quality minutes and can chip in a few points here and there to the scoring effort. As a team, they do not shoot the free throw very well, making 68% of their attempts. They are tied for last in the Big East along with Butler.
Outlook: Villanova cannot overlook this game and think about what is to come Sunday night. DePaul is having a tough stretch right now and will do anything to break the losing streak. If Melvin is back for DePaul, they will keep it a little closer than if he were not to come back. The Wildcats will cruise to victory, winning the same way they did the first time the two teams met, by simply outplaying them in every way. Five different Wildcats had at least 10 points and everything was just working for them. The Wildcats simply have more talent and better players at each position. They beat the Blue Demons in every category the first time they played this season. This Wednesday night, the result will be more or less the same.