Loyola Ramblers at DePaul Blue Demons Game Preview, Prediction

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It’s an intracity battle of first year head coaches when the Loyola Ramblers visit the DePaul Blue Demons on Saturday. These are two programs with polar opposite fortunes in recent years. DePaul hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament in what feels like forever, but actually it’s 2004.

Loyola meanwhile have appeared in two of the last three sweet sixteens. Will the Ramblers exorcise the demons in their own house this weekend? DPU is still perfect on the very young season, but LU presents a new kind of challenge.

Loyola Ramblers at DePaul Blue Demons FYIs 

Tip: Sat, Dec 4, 3pm, Wintrust Arena, Chicago, FS1

Season Previews:  Loyola Ramblers    DePaul Blue Demons

Head Coach Exclusives: Drew Valentine-  Part 1    Part 2   Tony Stubblefield-  Part 1    Part 2

ESPN BPI Matchup Predictor: 55.9%-44.1% Loyola wins

Loyola Ramblers (6-2, 0-0 away, KenPom 30) Preview

The Ramblers have suffered two losses this season, both of which were to teams currently ranked in the top 25, at the Battle For Atlantis (not Battle 4 Atlantis, because no one beyond the age of 7 needs to ever spell a word as a number). LU fell 63-61 to now #22 Michigan State, in game that was obviously very important and emotional for Valentine, due to several reasons.

They then lost to Auburn, now ranked #21, by nine points, in a game where the Ramblers could only muster 21 points. That’s been the story for this team so far, in year one of the post Porter Moser rebuild. Scoring is a major issue, but they picked up right where they left off in terms of defending.

LU can shut down just about anybody, but when you have a team this guard-centric, and lacking much presence down low, the offense is destined to be up and down. Their leading scorer (Lucas Williamson), rebounder (Tate Hall) and assists man (Braden Norris) are all guards.

It’s fair to say they miss Cameron Krutwig, quite a lot.

None of their wins this season are all that impressive, but they still have very favorable chances of winning their first road contest of the season.

DePaul Blue Demons (6-0, 6-0 home, KenPom 105) Preview 

DePaul does have one pretty solid win, over Rutgers in the Gavitt Games, as the Scarlet Knights were a NCAA Tournament team last season. While that one was tight, the rest of their Ws were blowouts, except for Western Illinois.

The fact that DPU only beat them by four is concerning, and this team has really shown some lapses, at times, on the defensive end. It’s clear that the Tony Stubblefield rebuilding project is going to take awhile, even though we haven’t seen those flaws show up in the loss column yet.

Big East conference season may not go well for the boys in blue. Javon Freeman-Liberty, a Valparaiso transfer, is Mr. all-everything for the Demons. The nephew of Marcus Liberty, a member of the 1989 Flyin’ Illini, leads DPU in all major categories.

Will he get his? Or will LU effectively clamp down defensively on him?

That’s what will determine the winner of this Rogers Park vs South Loop clash.

Prediction: DePaul Blue Demons 73, Loyola Chicago 69

Truly a match-up of contrasting styles here- LU would prefer the final score in the 50s or 60s, while the hosts are aiming to have it in the 70s or 80s.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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