Villanova passed its non-conference exam with flying colors and now begins Big East play Wednesday when the nation’s No. 1-ranked team visits DePaul. The Wildcats won all 12 of their non-league games, including solid victories against Tennessee and Gonzaga, and hope to continue their long run of dominance against DePaul.
The Wildcats were on fire from 3-point range against Hofstra in their last contest, finishing 16-of-34 as a team with Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo knocking down four 3-pointers apiece in a 95-71 victory. “The way they shoot the ball,” Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman told reporters when asked what stood out about Villanova. “Overall, a great team.” DePaul has won six of seven and boasts one of the Big East’s top guards in junior Max Strus, who has averaged 27 points with 10 total 3-pointers over the last two games. Marin Maric added 22 points in 24 minutes off the bench the last time out, and the 6-11 Croatian will be huge, literally and figuratively, against the Wildcats’ guard-heavy lineup.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
ABOUT VILLANOVA (12-0, 0-0 Big East): Mikal Bridges (20 points) led the team in scoring against Hofstra, altough Omari Spellman (19), Booth (17), DiVincenzo (16) and Jalen Brunson (14) were not far behind. Spellman added 10 rebounds to record his fourth double-double of the season, three of which have come in the last five games, and the freshman forward has really improved his shooting as well. Spellman is 14-of-21 from 3-point land over the last six games after opening his career 3-of-13 from behind the arc.
ABOUT DEPAUL (7-5, 0-0): The Blue Demons posted an 83-66 triumph over Miami (Ohio) last Thursday with key performances from Strus, Maric and Eli Cain, who poured in 19 points in a much-needed quality effort. The junior guard had shot 3-of-15 over the previous two games and is shooting only 36.7 percent from the field this season - one of three active DePaul regulars shooting under 40 percent from the floor. Strus (17.3 points) leads the team in scoring and has made at least half of his shots in three consecutive games.
1. The Wildcats shoot 41.6 percent from beyond the arc despite F Eric Paschall shooting 1-of-23 to this point in the season.
2. DePaul has played five Power 5 teams this season, losing to all five (Notre Dame, Illinois, Michigan State, Oregon, Northwestern).
3. Villanova has won 14 straight matchups in the series.
PREDICTION: Villanova 70, DePaul 60