This season kind of got off on the wrong foot for the DePaul Blue Demons, who had to play without their head coach for three games and sustained a three-year probation from the NCAA for violations related to recruiting. But they are trying to leave all that behind them, and getting off to an 8-0 start truly helps.
On Wednesday night, they will engage in one of the most important games in the recent history of the program, as they play host to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, last year’s national runner-up, tipping off at 8:30 PM ET at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
The game will be televised by Fox Sports 1, and while BetAnySports customers are watching it, they can place wagers in real-time using the state-of-the-art software from Sports Betting Ultra.
Dave Leitao, in his second tour of duty at the school, with a stop at Virginia in between (Tony Bennett succeeded him as head coach there), sat out the first three games of the season as part of the NCAA’s penalty. But this program, which finished 19-17 last year and made it to the finals of the CBI (Collegiate Basketball Invitational), where it lost a three-game series to South Florida, is making strides. In fact, they have beating a couple of Big Ten teams already. That includes Iowa, the common opponent between themselves and Texas Tech, which lost 72-61 to the Hawkeyes in Las Vegas.
Chris Beard’s Red Raiders had to say goodbye to the heart of their team, with Jarrett Culver, Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney departing. But they brought aboard an outstanding talent in five-star recruit Jahmi’us Ramsey, who is probably the biggest signing ever for the program. Ramsey, who may be a “one-and-done” headed to the NBA, had taken on the scoring load in the early going, averaging just under 20 ppg in the first five contests, but he developed a hamstring issue that caused him to miss the last game and makes him questionable foe this one.
If he’s missing, the Red Raiders will have to fill that scoring void in a hurry.
In the NCAA basketball odds posted on this game at BetAnySports – and infused with reduced juice – Texas Tech is slightly favored:
Texas Tech Red Raiders -1.5 (-107)
DePaul Blue Demons +1.5 (-103)
Over 139.5 points (-105)
Under 139.5 points (-105)
After five easy wins, Tech has lost back-to-back games. They shot just 32% and gad only five offensive rebounds against Iowa, then allowed Creighton to shoot almost 52%. And they have to play top-ranked Louisville in six days. That would be rough if Ramsey isn’t available. This looks like it might be a late-developing team, but they have a couple of impact transfers. Chris Clarke, who sat out last year after leaving Virginia Tech, averaging eight rebounds and six assists from his small forward\ spot. TJ Holyfield came from Stephen F. Austin with a reputation for an inside-outside offensive game, but he needs to show more from the outside.
Davide Moretti, a holdover, has been brilliant from beyond the arc (45.9%) from his point guard, and he is the guy they may have to rely on vs. DePaul, which is getting great guard play out of Charlie Moore, who has played previously at California and Kansas, and received a family medical waiver from the NCAA to be immediately eligible this season. He’s had 63 points over the last three games, and is a godsend to Leitao, who was wondering how he’s replace guard Max Strus, last year’s leading scorer (at 20.1 ppg). Paul Reed does a little of everything; he was the Big East’s leading rebounder last season, is a shot-blocker (DePaul is third in the nation in block percentage) and had 25 points and a dozen boards against Iowa, where, by the way, the Blue Demons left no room for doubt, getting off to a 23-point halftime lead and shooting 61% from the field.
A quick look at the numbers shows that Texas Tech is not stopping people the way they did last season, at least not yet. Where they were third best defending two-pointers and 13th against triples last year, they are 42nd and 259th, respectively. So don’t assign the wrong identity to them right now.
And while we know this may be a bit hyperbolic, consider that Richard Pitino, whose Minnesota team just lost to DePaul on Friday, says that the Blue Demons’ starting five is “as good as any in the country.” We think they’re ready. So we’ll go with the guys from the Windy City.
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