Duquesne did pretty much exactly what we all thought it’d do in non-conference play. The Dukes lost some games they shouldn’t have, won one that they definitely shouldn’t have, and did pretty decent the rest of the way. Duquesne finished the non-conference slate 7-6. It will begin conference play with an away game against Fordham. This team will once again finish near the bottom of the league, but there are some positives for Duquesne fans to keep their eyes on. Freshmen Isaiah Mike and Mike Lewis seem to be good additions. Sophomore Tarin Smith has also had some good games this year, so the Dukes do have some young talent.
Duquesne essentially has one good win, but boy, was it a good win. This team, somehow, God knows how, managed to beat Pittsburgh in the annual City Game. Not bad considering the Panthers have won the last 15 meetings. Kevin Stallings’ squad is also off to a 10-2 start and boasts nice wins over Marquette and Maryland. And then, they have a big fat L to a struggling Duquesne team (you’re welcome Pitt). Sure, winning this game may not mean much considering the Dukes are unlikely to play in the postseason, but it’s a confidence-booster for this young team. Plus, it’s always fun thumping your big brother. If Duquesne hits some wall and somehow goes 0-18 in conference play (it won’t happen), at least it has this win to reminisce over at the end of the season.
The Pittsburgh win stands out as the best win by a long shot for this team. Other than that, honestly, Duquesne really hasn’t beaten anyone noteworthy. And I’m saying this based on Duquesne standards. The Dukes rank 206th according to Kenpom, and after the win over Pitt (56th), its best win is over Cleveland State (240th). Wins over Colgate (291st), Jackson State (300th), and Central Connecticut (340th) can’t even be considered good, just expected. Unfortunately for the Dukes, they had a tough time securing some of these wins in the early going.
Realistically, Duquesne had 3 bad losses in non-conference play. No team in the Atlantic 10 (not even Duquesne or Saint Louis) should lose to a team ranked worse than 200th in Kenpom. Unfortunately for this league, that happened multiple times this year. Duquesne was no exception. The Dukes lost to Tennessee Martin (219th), UMBC (231st), and Robert Morris (266th), and the first two came at home. That’s awful. This league can’t be losing to teams like that if it wants a chance at being one of the best conferences in the country. Though the Pittsburgh win looks really good, it doesn’t completely mask the bad losses that this team’s been facing all year.
Non-Conference Grade: C+
Based on what we expected Duquesne to do this season, it’s hard to give the Dukes any worse than a satisfactory C+. If it weren’t for a win over Pitt, this team is probably looking at more of a D or a D-. At least the Dukes won more games than they lost in non-conference play, so, yeah. That won’t happen in league play this year. Duquesne wasn’t supposed to be good this year, but some of its non-conference losses are very concerning for this basketball program.