Over most of the past 33 years to pair the words “rank” and “DePaul” typically meant one was saying something disparaging about the school’s men’s basketball team.
Wednesday night, however, a pairing of the words with a hashtag — #rankdepaul — helped the school’s name shoot to the top of the worldwide trending topics on Twitter.
The people have spoken, but they’ve only done so after a 9-0 start that DePaul has put on this season, its best run to start a season in 33 years and the first sustained run of success catching national attention for the once-proud Jesuit basketball powerhouse in about 15 years.
Peaking the interest of college basketball fans across the internet was the Blue Demons’ extremely hard-fought 65-60 overtime win over Texas Tech in front of a rapturous crowd at Wintrust Arena.
In providing that relatively-new arena with its first unarguably classic DePaul men’s contest, the solid mix of Chicago and greater Illinois-bred talent shown growth and guts in surviving a back-and-forth struggle against an ever-gritty Tech team.
Last year’s national runners-up didn’t provide the same talent that got them to the championship game last Spring, but they had Chicago product, Terrence Shannon Jr. who went to school at Lincoln Park, in the same area as DePaul’s campus. A failed recruiting target for the Blue Demons, Shannon made the loss seem deeper with a game-high 24 in his return to the city, showing much Chicago-branded flash in his game.
But DePaul sharpshooter Jalen Coleman-Lands and the slick-dribbling Charlie Moore made play after play in the late minutes of the second half and OT to set things right for DePaul, which should have proven with this win that it is at least at the moment among the top 25 teams in America.
More than a retro-soaked feel-good story for college basketball fans who remember DePaul’s 1970s and 80s heyday, this is a team that has aggressively re-instated itself in the mix for attention both in the Big East and nationally.
With its slate of basic cable games on Fox Sports and a city thirsty for uniting basketball excellence in lieu of the Bulls’ inability to put things together, expect DePaul to keep trending high as a major story as long as they keep reeling wins off through the winter.
A long-awaited return to the NCAA tournament could be on the horizon for the Blue Demons, but in the meantime they’re gonna make due raising hell with unsuspecting opponents.
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