This is weird, but I irrationally want Northwestern to beat DePaul tonight.
Once upon a time, Northwestern and DePaul played pretty regularly. There was even a trophy!
Who will earn tonight's Fisher-McGrath Award, given to the MVP of the Northwestern/DePaul game since… http://t.co/zTPQ1FTKiz— Northwestern Sports (@NU_Sports) December 27, 2013
It makes sense! One's off the Fullerton stop (although they randomly play out near O'Hare where none of their students would ever possibly consider going to a basketball game) and the other's in Evanston. It's the Purple Line Express Rivalry! This should happen every year! Winning team's students get to skip to the front of the McGee's fried ravioli line on Friday nights!
DePaul was generally better than Northwestern. Yanno, Mark Aguirre, Quentin Richardson, Wilson Chandler, and on the other side... Evan Eschmeyer?
But the last time Northwestern played DePaul was in 2008, when I was a freshman and the Wildcats stomped the Blue Demons, 63-36. And then, magically, they disappeared from Northwestern's schedule.
Since then, Northwestern has been... well, good by Northwestern standards. And DePaul has been easily the worst major conference basketball team in the sport. In the four seasons since Northwestern has played DePaul, the Blue Demons have won seven Big East games. Northwestern has won seven or more conference games three of those four seasons, with last year's four-win season ending in a coaching firing.
Now, Northwestern is as bad as it's been in recent years, while DePaul is as good as it's been in recent years. Note: "good," as in, "NEEDED OVERTIME TO BEAT CHICAGO STATE" and "LOST TO THE SAME ILLINOIS STATE TEAM THAT BEAT NORTHWESTERN AND CAUSED US ALL TO FRET GREATLY." "Good" as in "KENPOM NO. 141." "Good" as in "WORSE THAN NORTHWESTERN, BUT CERTAINLY CAPABLE OF BEATING NORTHWESTERN."
It would distress me a great deal if Northwestern skipped over the POOOOOOP era of DePaul basketball and lost to them immediately upon their return to nearly-non-embarrassing basketball.
So let's get this W, and help Luke fill this out:
DePaul lost http://t.co/wUo5XsxdIi— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) December 22, 2013
DePaul lost http://t.co/qRmrobfle7— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) December 7, 2013
DePaul lost— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) November 27, 2013
DePaul lost http://t.co/k2FfZIHLEe— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) November 26, 2013
@SBNationCBB DePaul lost— Russell Steinberg (@Russ_Steinberg) November 15, 2013
DePaul lost— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) November 14, 2013
Lookie there, the sun. RT @SBNationCBB: DePaul lost.— Eye on College BBall (@EyeOnCBB) January 19, 2013
So can Northwestern win?First off, this is important:
Oh. RT @SBNationCBB: DePaul lost.— Eye on College BBall (@EyeOnCBB) February 6, 2013
In terms of #STRAT, the big concern for Northwestern is going to be the defensive glass. DePaul is bad at most things, good at some things, but legitimately very good at grabbing offensive boards: they reel in 38.8 percent of their misses, with the spectacularly named senior Cleveland Melvin and Purdue transfer Sandi Marcius. Melvin's a very talented power forward, and Marcius is 6'11. Counting out UCLA, which was never a contest in any way, this is the best frontcourt Northwestern has faced this season. How Alex Olah, Nikola Cerina and BLANK -- Sanjay Lumpkin? -- deal with two strong bigs is not just worrisome for tonight, but kinda important for all of Big Ten play, too.
Northwestern's issues scoring the ball should be somewhat lessened against a DePaul team that has played terrible defense, but, that's going to be constant throughout the year. Right now the question is whether Northwestern's interior defense and rebounding can keep DePaul off the scoreboard enough for Crawford and stragglers to get the W on the other end.
Go Cats and stuff.