DePaul Travels to Omaha to Face Creighton: Preview II

cropped-white-demon

The Blue Demons Seek Revenge over the Blue Jays

The Setup

DePaul plays the Creighton Blue Jays on Wednesday, 2/26/2018 at 8:00 pm Central in Omaha, Nebraska at the CentruryLink Center.  It will be carried on FS1 (Channel 237 on Comcast) and on the WIND (Radio 560).

The Blue Jays come into the game with 20 wins and 9 losses overall, with a 9-7 record in Big East games after beating Villanova in Overtime on Saturday.

Your DePaul Blue Demons secured their 1st conference win at Wintrust Area by bursting Marquette’s bubble and splitting the season series. 

Gambling Corner

The line opened at 9.5, went to 10.5 and then quickly dropped to 8.5.  The current line from VegasInsider.com has Creighton favored between 8.5 and 9. Clearly, the sharps like DePaul.  Kenpom.com favors the Blue Jays by 10.

I Want to Enjoy College Basketball Imperialism for another Game

As mentioned in the game recap of Marquette, Reddit has this ‘College Basketball Imperialism’ Chart.  Its description is as follows:

“What if college basketball games were battles for land? Every county is the possession of the team located closest to it. If a team is beaten, all of their land is taken by the team to defeat them, regardless of where the game takes place. The only exception is if a team loses to a non-D1 opponent, they will retain their lands to simplify the map.”

Since DePaul beat Marquette, who had beaten St. John’s who had just beaten Duke and Villanova, the Blue Demons took a hell of a lot of land.  Take a picture of this one, because it will not last long! Let’s enjoy it for one more day or maybe a few more days!

To View the entire breakdown of this Momentous Occasion, check out this link.

Recent History

DePaul  lost by one point in the last 45 seconds of the game in the first meeting of the season.  The Demons had everything going their way, until they could not grab the clinching rebound multiple times.  On Creighton’s 3rd shot attempt of the extended possession, Marcus Foster hit the dagger 3-pointer (after missing a 3 and a 2 earlier in the possession.)  Bitter loss.

The Blue Jays swept DePaul last season.  Since the forming of the new Big East in 2014, the Omaha steak eaters hold a 10-1 series lead.  The last time DePaul beat the Blue Jays was when Forrest Robinson, with lighting bolts shooting out of his fingers, made 5 three pointers in the first 5 minutes of the game and made 6 three pointers on the night at Omaha on January 7th, 2015.

Last time that DePaul beat Creighton, it was Forrest Robinson’s One Shining Moment

Fun Facts about Creighton

Religious affiliation:  Jesuit

Billy Bluejay - 1941

The were named the Blue Jays after the local newspaper, the Omaha Bee, held a contest in 1924.  There is a scholarship available to whoever serves as the mascot.

The mascot is named Billy Blue Jay.  Too bad that DePaul’s old mascot isn’t around anymore.  If he was, Billy Blue Demon could wrestle Billy Blue Jay.

I will mention this again, I like Creighton’s player profile pages.  Easily the most fun of any of the Big East teams that I have read.  It  has some semi-fun factoids about each player.  The player facts below are directly from their Creighton pages.

The Current Flavor of Blue Jays

Kenpom.com has them rated as the 28nd best team in the nation.  Their worst loss was at Providence, which is not a bad loss by any stretch.  You might argue, that their worst loss was at home against Marquette 10 days ago.  DePaul has beaten both these teams.

This team shares and shoots real well.  This does not bode well for the Demons.  The Blue Jays have the 7th highest effective field goal percentage, and the 22nd best offensive efficiency in the country.

The Omaha boys have the 3rd highest percentage in the country on 2 point shots, shooting a cool 59.8%.  42nd best free throw shooting team and 50th best 3 point shooting team.  Across the board, this is an offensive juggernaut.  Not good times.

However, they are not excellent at offensive rebounding or getting fouled while shooting, but most likely this is because they don’t need to be.  These dudes just score.

Defensively, Creighton does not foul and they block out extremely well.  They do not let teams beat them from the 3 point arc.

Who should Scare the Blue out of Us?  Plenty of Candidates, but let’s go with Marcus Foster

Senior point guard out of Wichita Falls, Texas.  His nickname is Swaggy.  Started his career at Kansas State, but tiring of the great metropolis of Manhattan, Kansas, made his way to the excellent city of Omaha.  He shoots 43.8% from 3 point land.  53.7% from 2 point land, and nearly 76.6% from the free throw line.  He beat us with the game winning shot, but I wasn’t that impressed with it, since he missed 2 other shots on the same possession.  He did torch our guys.  He went 11-19 including 5-8 from 3 point land for 29 points.  Good luck Eli, Justin, and Brandon.

Image result for marcus foster
Marcus says, “Hey, DePaul, I see quite a few holes in your defense.”

Who Else?  Toby Hegner

6’10” Senior, who shoots 41.0% from 3 point land, and 63.0% from 2 point land.  He spots the highest offensive rating on the team with a 123.8.  I don’t think I like him.  Says here that his favorite professional team is the Green Bay Packer.  That clinches it, I really don’t like him.  The first time around, Hegner got in foul trouble, and did not have an effective game.  Let’s hope he sucks again.

High Usage Guy

Khyri Thomas

Do not foul him.  Shoots 83.6% from the line.  Also, shoot 39.4% from 3 point land.  His nickname is ‘Tazz’.  Wonder where that came from?  Fan of Frederick Douglass.  That fact clinches it; I like Khyri better than Toby.  He had an average game last time around.

Other Dude

Jacob Epperson

6’11” Freshman.  Activated once Martin Krampelj went down with a season ending knee injury.  They are slowly increasing his minutes.  He is definitely becoming a crowd favorite in Omaha.  Maric made him look like a fool last time.  Let’s hope the wiley veteran schools the kid again.

How does DePaul Matchup?  Not good.

Let’s go to the tail of the tape.

Offense

The Blue Jays are better at the following:

Offensive Efficiency

Effective FG% (2nd Best in the Big East)

Turnover %

3 Point Shooting

2 Point Shooting (2nd best in the Big East)

Free Throw Shooting (Best in the Big East)

Assisted Field Goals

DePaul is better at Offensive Rebounds, not getting blocked, and getting to the free throw line.

Advantage:  Creighton

Defense

Crazily, these teams are relatively close on the defensive side, but they go about it completely different.

Creighton changes their defense as the situation presents itself.

The key trends with the Blue Jays:

Extremely efficient, the do not allow many offensive rebounds, they do not foul, and their opponents shoot poorly against them from 3 point land.  They do not try to block shots, and they do not try to steal the ball.  They contest shots and rebound misses.  Fundamental basketball.

DePaul tries to force turnovers, stop you from making 2 point shots, and allow your team to shoot wide open 3s.

Advantage:  Since the Blue Jays Offensive strengths are the Blue Demons defensive weaknesses, I am giving this one to Creighton as well.

In Conclusion

On paper, this is not a great match up for DePaul.  However, we know that we do not play basketball on paper.  In the last game, DePaul’s offense was able to keep up with Creighton’s offense.

Creighton’s offense has been trending down the past 5 games.  Looking at individual shooting percentages while writing this, all the key guys are on a downswing.  Creighton still shoots well and they take care of the ball.  But it is not a dominate as before.

The only offensive strength that the Demons have (offensive rebounding) is not longer a strength in the Blue Jay defense.  The trends show that the Blue Jays are giving up more rebounds post the Martin Krampelj injury.  The trends chart is quite striking how much worse they have become. They are giving up 10% more defensive rebounds a game.  The other trends is that Creighton has been giving up more points per possession (with the exceptions of the Xavier and Villanova games, which makes no sense at all.)

The only way I see a DePaul victory is if one of the Demons turn into Forrest Robinson for one night and gets on fire.

The other possibility is Cain and Maric play as well as the last meeting. Strus improves and McCallum gets in foul trouble (like last time, when he had an offensive rating of zero) putting the best defensive line up on the court.

Most likely a Creighton Victory, but we know DePaul can be competitive.

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