|DePaul Blue Demons
|Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET
|Bryce Jordan Center
|Big East Coast Bias
The inaugural Gavitt Tip-Off games will showcase some intriguing matchups throughout this week. Penn State vs. DePaul isn't going to move the ratings meter, especially with a 5 p.m. start on ESPNU, but this has all the makings of a tight contest. The Lions and Blue Demons are respectively ranked 117th and 118th in the very early KenPom ratings, and both are coming off of home wins in their openers.
"New" coach Dave Leitao was hired in the summer to replace Oliver Purnell, who resigned before anyone could fire him for the first time in his career. Leitao coached the Blue Demons from 2002-2005 and made the tournament in 2003-04. That's the last time DePaul went dancing, and they're hoping the former Virginia coach can get them back in time for completion for their new state-of-the-art arena.
His tenure almost started in disaster against Western Michigan, who led the Demons by 11 at halftime before succumbing to their high major opponents, 69-63. Nice, DePaul.
Scouting The Opposition
Leitao has some returning talent with which to work in 2015-16. Billy Garrett was singled out by Pat Chambers as one to watch in his Monday press roundtable, and with good reason - a 6'6" point guard, Garrett uses his physicality to get to the line a ton and will have a big size advantage against Shep Garner should the PSU point guard draw that defensive assignment.
In fact, DePaul has size at every position that will provide a sharp contrast from the vertically-challenged VMI team Penn State hosted on Saturday afternoon. Tommy Hamilton, a 6'11" 255 lb. junior, anchors the frontline for DePaul and can even step out and know down the three, which he did to the tune of an impressive 47 percent on 49 attempts a year ago. Swingman Myke Henry is also capable of lighting it up from deep from the wing.
What To Watch For
Penn State, and Josh Reaves in particular, did a great job of jumping in passing lanes and hassling ball handlers against VMI. DePaul had a proclivity for turning the ball over last season (223rd nationally in turnover efficiency) and the Lions could sure use some easy buckets against a team that defended the three ball very well in 2015. Penn State shot just 5-19 from deep on Saturday.
Chambers had nothing but positive remarks for Dan Earl's VMI, but that was a team that lacked talent and was still seeking an identity under a new head coach. DePaul could provide some of their own dysfunction, but Penn State has to be able to hit more of their outside shots. I think DePaul's length will give the Nittany Lions some trouble and allow Leitao's club to dictate the pace of the game. Put me down for DePaul 65, Penn State 62.