Loyola (8-3) at DePaul (4-6) at Allstate Arena at 1 p.m. on Saturday
Radio: WNTD (950 AM), WAUR?(930 AM), WWCA?(1270 AM) (John Fitzgerald and John Tracy)
TV: WCUU (Zach Zaidman and Laurence Holmes) - ESPN3.com, ESPN Full Court
Ken Pomeroy: Loyola favored 68-65 over DePaul (64%) in 66 possessions.
What to watch for:
When DePaul and Loyola meet at Allstate Arena on Saturday afternoon one thing is going to be on the mind of all the participants - turnovers. Those empty possessions and takeaways are going to decide what should be a tight game between two teams with very different styles of play.
Why are turnovers going to be so important? Partly, because Loyola's offensive success this season has been driven by not turning the ball over (17.1 turnover percentage, 27th best in the nation) and grabbing offensive rebounds (37.9 percent, 41st). On the other hand, the one thing that DePaul does very well on defense is force turnovers. Thanks to Oliver Purnell's hectic, pressing style opponents have turned the ball over on 27.3 percent of their possessions against the Blue Demons, sixth in the nation.
It will be very interesting to see how Terrance Hill, Gabe Kindred and Courtney Stanley handle the pressure that the Blue Demons apply. Stanley's turnover rate of 32.6 percent of his possessions is quite worrisome. Kindred's rate of 22.8 percent isn't much better either. Thus it'll be important that Loyola calmly handles the pressure and gets the ball to its big men, who don't turn the ball over and in general should be able to score against Krys Faber, Tony Freeland and Cleveland Melvin in the paint.
On the other side, Loyola's defense is predicated on forcing a very high number of turnovers (23.7 percent, 61st) and not allowing easy shots inside. The biggest problem with Loyola's defense this season has been defending the three-point shot, where they've allowed opponents to shoot 35.6 percent. That's bad, but it's unlikely that DePaul will be able to take advantage considering they're the seventh worst three-point shooting team in the nation. In fact, DePaul may struggle to score against the Ramblers in base sets, which will make those transition points even more important.
This means DePaul's freshman point guard Brandon Young should take center stage. He'll have an important role on the defensive end applying pressure to the Ramblers, but he'll also need to lead some fast breaks to get easy transition points. As we've seen the past few games, opponents now know they have to guard Young on every possession and the quick hands of Stanley and Kindred could give him problems when he puts the ball on the court.
This game could come down to which team is able to get more "effective possessions" as John Gasaway likes to call them. What it comes down to though is a fancy name for "possessions that don't end in a turnover." Whichever team is able to get more second opportunities and hang onto the ball will likely end up being the victor in what should be a very close game.
Individual Match Ups to Watch (guesses of course):
- Brandon Young vs. Courtney Stanley / Gabe Kindred
- Krys Faber / Cleveland Melvin vs. Ben Averkamp / Walt Gibler
- Mike Stovall vs. Geoff McCammon / Chim Kadima / Terrance Hill
- Tony Freeland vs. Andy Polka (on the boards)