The DePaul Blue Demons' complete men's basketball schedule has been released. Thus the speculation about how well DePaul will play in Oliver Purnell's first season on the bench can begin. Personally, I think the team is a good position and if a few things break the right way the Blue Demons could end up finishing around .500 this season. Let's break down what would have to happen for that to become a reality.
The Blue Demons have 12 non-conference games, including three at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, California. Their game against Oklahoma State in the tournament is the only guaranteed non-conference game against a power conference opponent. The Blue Demons could play Virginia Tech and/or Stanford in the 76 Classic as well - though it's unlikely. So, assuming that DePaul goes 1-2 in the 76 Classic, they'd need to win 8 of the other 9 match-ups on the non-conference slate to finish a respectable 9-3.
All of the non-conference games are winnable. Chicago State and Ball State should be easy wins, but the other 7 could cause some problems for the Blue Demons. Let's say DePaul slips up against either Western Carolina or at Indiana State, but wins all the other ones. Then that's 9-3 as they head to Cincinnati to open the Big East slate.
After the jump I look at conference play.
The Conference Schedule:
Big East play sets up alright for the Blue Demons. Most of the easier games are in the back half of the conference schedule, which should give the team time to continue to adjust to Big East play and Purnell's system. If DePaul can squeak by Seton Hall at Allstate Arena on January 12, then the Blue Demons shouldn't drop under .500 until a nationally televised game against Notre Dame on Thursday, February 3.
Assuming that comes to pass, the Blue Demons would be 10-11 overall and 1-8 in conference. Things would be beginning to look ugly. Another loss at Louisville won't help things, but then maybe things start to turn around. A win at home against Cincinnati, a team that crushed the Blue Demons to start conference play on the road, signals to the conference that DePaul isn't going to go away this season.
From then on the Blue Demons go 4-4, adding victories at Providence, and at home against Rutgers and South Florida. The conference schedule ends and the Blue Demons are sitting at 14-16 overall, 5-13 during Big East play.
The Big East Tournament:
DePaul goes into the Big East Tournament looking to prove that it's end of the season run wasn't a fluke. A young hungry team wins its first round game, benefitting from the conference's refusal to change the tournament's seeding rules. It comes down to a second round Big East game for the Blue Demons to get back to .500 for the first time since that Notre Dame game. Maybe the game is even against the Fighting Irish again. But no matter what happened during that one Purnell's first season would have to be declared a success.
So, is this too optimistic? Too pessimistic? Would you take the over or the under on 14 wins for the Blue Demons this season? Let me know in the comments.