The DePaul Blue Demons may have struggled in the highly competitive Big East, but they boasted one of the best individual performers in the conference in Charlie Moore, DePaul’s junior guard who averaged 15.5 points per game (8th in the Big East) and led the conference with 6.1 assists per contest. It was a massive improvement from a sophomore year with Kansas that saw Moore shoot 28.6% from the field and average under 3 points a game in just 13 minutes of court time per contest. The Chicago product improved his mark to 37.6% shooting from the field while leading the Blue Demons in points and assists, while posting a respectable 3.3 rebounds per contest as a 5’11 guard. Moore has played a year each with Cal, Kansas, and DePaul, but he is returning to the Blue Demons for his senior year.
Many of DePaul’s season highlights came in the early portion of the year, opening up the year on a 9-game tear. Moore was front and center for that early-season hot streak, torching BC on the road for 24 points and 8 assists, followed by back-to-back double-doubles against Central Michigan and Minnesota. He finished the main stretch of the non-conference slate with a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double against Northwestern, polishing off a 12-1 start to the year for the Blue Demons.
Despite DePaul struggling to attain results in Big East play, Moore continued to put up solid numbers and big games against tough competition. He poured in 29 points in a road game at #14 Villanova, and he came up two rebounds shy of a triple-double against St. Johns. There are several other games to highlight, including a 21-point, 8-assist, 6-rebound effort against Marquette, as Moore pushed out strong performance after strong performance. He ended his season on a high note, sparking DePaul to an upset victory over Xavier with 18 points and 9 assists in the Big East preliminary round. If Moore can continue to improve his shooting and be a high-impact player for DePaul, he should be a huge player to watch both on the conference and national landscape.
There was very little Big East action on Saturday, so here’s a quick summary and takeaway from the two conference games that were played.
Villanova 64 Providence 60
The Game: Collin Gillespie scored 18 points and notched 8 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to victory at Providence – holding off a Friars comeback bid for their 12th win in 13 games.
The Takeaway: Providence Needs A Signature Win. The Friars have lost four of five in Big East play, and despite being competitive in each contest, they have not locked down a big win yet, which they will likely need to do to earn an at-large bid in March.
St. Johns 79 DePaul 66
The Game: LJ Figueroa was a beast for the Red Storm on Saturday, dropping 28 points on DePaul as St. Johns won handily in a battle of Big East cellar dwellers.
The Takeaway: Butler is in trouble. I know, this takeaway is about a team not involved in the game. But this game highlighted many DePaul deficiencies as they were slapped around on their home-court by another team in the basement of the conference. That Butler lost to this DePaul team is embarrassing and says a lot about the state of their team right now.
Last week, I listed Butler and Seton Hall as co-title favorites, and this week, I believe the Pirates have separated themselves. I don’t think too much has changed within in the conference as a whole, but here’s a quick look at their biggest risers and fallers.
Biggest Risers: Seton Hall
The Pirates are essentially the conference’s biggest riser due to their 9-game winning streak and head-to-head win over Butler, last week’s co-favorite. While I don’t think their conference championship odds increased tremendously, they have separated themselves from the field with a 7-0 Big East record, and so they earn the honor of biggest riser this week.
Biggest Fallers: Butler, St. Johns
The Bulldogs are the new Ohio State of college basketball. After achieving a top-5 ranking, Butler has lost three straight games, one at home, and another one to an unranked opponent – quite possibly the worst Big East team in DePaul. It has been a horrific stretch for the Bulldogs. They’re still getting in the tournament, but I regard them as a clear second to Seton Hall in the conference with Villanova closing in behind them.
St. Johns prospects in the Big East were already pretty glum, and they dropped again this week. The Red Storm have lost another three straight Big East games after finally taking down DePaul for their first conference victory; they have kept some big games close, but ultimately, the lack of results is going to doom this team. Sitting at 11-2 entering conference play, St. Johns has crashed to 12-8 and is now looking like an afterthought in both the conference and national picture.
Right now, my prediction is for 5 teams from the Big East to make the tournament, with Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, Marquette, and Creighton representing the conference.
3 teams are on the wrong side of the bubble, but still have a path to the tournament: Xavier, Providence, Georgetown.
I am declaring 2 teams officially dead in the NCAA tournament race: St. Johns and DePaul.