2016 Big East men’s basketball tournament: DePaul vs. Georgetown preview

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2016 Big East men’s basketball tournament: DePaul vs. Georgetown preview

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The DePaul Blue Demons (9-21, 3-15 Big East) head into New York as the ninth seed in the 2016 Big East tournament and they will play a Georgetown (14-17, 7-11) team that has fallen off the map as of late. The Hoyas have lost their last six games and nine out of their last ten. The Hoyas did sweep the season series, but their last win over DePaul, a 74-63 victory, came on Jan. 9.

The Basics

Who: DePaul vs. Georgetown

What: First round of the Big East tournament

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

When: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. EST

Why: Because tournaments are fun.

Key Matchup: Billy Garrett Jr. vs. D’vauntes Smith-Rivera

The brightest spot for the Hoyas in their long stretch of losses has been Smith-Rivera. In his last game, he only put in seven points but the four games before that saw him put up at least 16.  Garrett is similar, in which he regularly puts up double-digit points, but can also be completely shut down. Garrett has been held to less than double-digits six times during the conference season. With both teams’ defenses struggling, this game can come down to which offense can be more efficient. That starts with the guards

Strengths

DePaul

The Blue Demons’ defense has fallen off as the season has worn on but they have shown the ability to step up in certain big games, namely their wins over then No. 20 George Washington and then No. 11 Providence. The defense has fallen to the levels of last season, according to Kenpom’s defensive efficiency ratings, but considering their offense is still so much worse than in 2014-15, the defense gets the nod as a strength.

When the Blue Demons actually stick to the game plan and focus more on packing the lane and forcing bad shots, the defense can work against a struggling team like the Hoyas.

Georgetown

The Hoyas can score with the combination of Smith-Rivera and LJ Peak. Peak is shooting 54 percent from the field and put in 31 points in the Hoyas’ loss to Villanova in the season finale. Their guard play has had to take on a lot of the scoring duties with the loss of Bradley Hayes to an injury and, while their defense has suffered, they can still put up a lot of points quickly.

Weaknesses

DePaul

The Blue Demons have only eclipsed more than 70 points in only four Big East games this season and rank 179th nationally in Kenpom’s offensive efficiency ratings, nearly 70 points lower than their 2014-15 mark. Myke Henry is boom or bust when it comes to scoring and Garrett is really the only consistent scorer. With Georgetown’s scoring proficiency, DePaul will either have to step up offensively or on defense.

Georgetown

The Hoyas were already poor defensively, giving up 71 points a game in the Big East. But they’ve gotten worse since was before an injury to Bradley Hayes, a key defender. Since then, the Hoyas have given up an average of 83 points a game as they lack a big presence in the lane. While the Blue Demons’ offense is nothing to write home about, they will have an advantage going over the Hoyas’ poor defense.

Prediction

Georgetown 77 DePaul 71

The winner goes on to play No. 1 Villanova in the Big East quarterfinals.