DePaul falls to Rutgers, takes lead for worst major conference team

Photo: Jesse Kramer / thecatchandshoot.com
Photo: Jesse Kramer / thecatchandshoot.com
Billy Garrett Jr. rises for a jumper against Robert Morris. The DePaul point guard is shooting 3-of-21 from the field to start the season. (Photo: Jesse Kramer / thecatchandshoot.com)

Here’s a very real question. Is DePaul the worst team from a major conference this season?

The Blue Demons are out to an early lead in that race after falling at home to Rutgers on Thursday. Although DePaul fought back to a respectable 66-59 final margin, it trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half to a team that finished the 2015-16 season with a 7-25 record and a No. 279 ranking in KenPom.

Entering the season, the battle for worst team from a major conference was more or less a five-team race between DePaul, Rutgers, Boston College, Washington State and Mississippi State. Although there is still tons of basketball left, early signs are pointing toward the race narrowing down to two teams—DePaul and Boston College.

Boston College was upset by Nicholls State in its season opener, the worst defeat any of these five teams have suffered so far this year. But they bounced back with a win Maryland Eastern Shore this week.

DePaul is also 1-1, as the Blue Demons avoided a late collapse in a 78-72 win against Robert Morris in their season opener.

After Thursday’s loss, DePaul dropped below Boston College in KenPom ratings, becoming the only major conference team currently outside the top 200. However, the Blue Demons are favored in their next three games, which should give them a chance to make up some ground before the end of the month.

At least there’s one positive DePaul can take away from the Rutgers loss. Sophomore guard Eli Cain dropped 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, which puts him at 22.5 points per game this season.

But with no true bigs and senior point guard Billy Garrett Jr. shooting 14.3% from the field with as many turnovers as assists, DePaul could find itself in the thick of this race all the way through March.

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