FairwayJay’s Free College Basketball Selection December 27

FairwayJay’s Free College Basketball Selection December 27 & Game Analysis of DePaul at Northwestern

Line:  Northwestern:  -4.5 I Total:  134

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The DePaul Blue Demons ( 7-5 SU, 4-7 ATS ) travel to nearby Evanston, IL to take on Northwestern ( 7-5 SU, 4-7 ATS ) on Friday, December 27, 2013.  Tipoff is scheduled for 9:00pm ET from Welsh-Ryan Arena and the Big Ten Network carries the TV coverage in late-night college hoops action.

Northwestern is 6-1 at home but the Wildcats have yet to register a quality win anywhere on their schedule.  Losses to Missouri, UCLA and North Carolina State along with an early-season loss at Stanford shows Northwestern is not ready to compete with stronger teams as they lost all four of those games by double-digits.  This is the Wildcats last non-conference game before opening Big Ten play January 2 vs. Wisconsin.  While DePaul has also struggled with stronger teams and registered three SU/ATS double-digit losses against Arizona State, Texas and Wichita State, the Blue Demons are the more efficient offensive team and have an edge on the boards and especially on the offensive glass.

Both teams play at a slow pace and neither team shoots the ball well, making for a likely lower-scoring game and worth betting under the total.  Lone concern is that Oliver Purnell coached teams rarely play good defense, but they should perform better against a weaker Northwestern offensive team.  Tall guards Brandon Young and Billy Garrett are both double-digit scorers but have struggled with shooting from the perimeter.  However, note that Northwestern’s #2 scorer, 6-5 Jershonn Cobb ( 13 PPG ) has missed the last two games and while he’s expected to play he won’t be at full strength working through an ankle injury.

DePaul has four returning starters from last season and slender senior forward Cleveland Melvin is having a solid season ( 16 PPG, 7 RPG ).  He’ll battle Northwestern senior Drew Crawford ( 16 PPG, 8 RPG ), but the Blue Demons have an advantage up front with bigger size and should out-rebound the Wildcats, who’s weakness is their front court outside of Crawford.  The Blue Demons 6-10 freshman Tommy Hamilton ( 10 PPG, 5 RPG ) is emerging and improving and he’s a monster inside at 280 lbs.  The Blue Demons are much improved in rebounding this season and despite Wildcats center Alex Olah’s improved play, Northwestern is still going to lose the battle on the boards and that will be one of the keys for the ‘Dog to deliver Friday night.

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FairwayJay’s FREE College Basketball Selection on Friday, December 27, 2013

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Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay