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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing DePaul

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The Gophers get back to their major-conference-opponent non-conference schedule in a Friday matinee

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Gophers doubled down on the soft part of their home schedule, sending the North Dakota Fighting Hawks packing in a 79-56 win that marked Minnesota’s second straight home blowout. For a team that had such struggles shooting the ball on the road, the Gophers once again were confident and effective from the field, shooting 53% for the game and going 9-20 from deep. Five players scored in double figures and the team dominated UND in the paint.

Thus far the Gophers have taken care of business at home against inferior teams, but have been outmatched on the road against more equal opponents. The solve? Maybe they need to face these power conference teams at home.

The schedule now gets back to being hard again, as the Gophers have a five-game stretch against major conference opponents. Minnesota gets a chance to prove their mettle on Friday with a home date against the upstart DePaul Blue Demons, who come into the game at 7-0. Yes, you read that right .. undefeated. The Demons have feasted on a soft early schedule, but don’t be fooled — this is a team to take seriously. They took down Iowa in Iowa City.

From there it’s Clemson, Iowa, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.

Essentials:

Opponent:

DePaul Blue Demons (7-0)

Date and Time:

Friday, Nov. 29 @ 2 p.m. CT

Location:

Williams Arena

TV:

FS1

Radio:

KTLK 1130-AM/103.5-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

Raise your hand if you thought DePaul would go 7-0 in its first seven games. As I mentioned in our pre-season preview, the Blue Demons are on the rise and will certainly be an unpredictable opponent. They won 19 games last season (their most since 2007), and nearly won the CBI crown. And while they lost three of their top scorers, they also brought in a recruiting class that was ranked 25th by ESPN.

They have a ton of talent to replace, and while they were picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East, the newcomers they’re bringing in could provide a challenge to an unproven Minnesota squad.

In fact, DePaul’s 7-0 start marks their best opening to a season since 1986-87, when they won their first 16 games of the season en route to a 28-3 record and NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance. Three Blue Demons average double figures, led by Charlie Moore who chips in 16.6 points per game, while Paul Reed averages a double-double of 15.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per contest.

Despite being 7-0, KenPom isn’t quite convinced, as DePaul checks in at #65 in the rankings. That’s partially because they’ve beaten up on teams like Alcorn State, Fairleigh Dickinson and D-III University of Chicago. However, this will be the third true road game for the Demons, who have already notched victories at Iowa and Boston College.

Predictions

This is a very interesting matchup for the Gophers, who are desperate to prove that they can beat a power conference opponent. They had legitimate shots against Oklahoma, Butler and Utah but couldn’t quite get over the hump. At home against DePaul should present another opportunity for a win, but it’s still show-and-prove time for Minnesota, who hasn’t yet proven they are up for the task.

KenPom likes the Gophers by 3, but I’m still taking DePaul 65-62.