The Duquesne Dukes released their non-conference schedule yesterday in what appears to be an attempt to outdo last year’s batch of cupcakes Jim Ferry’s club baked in the form of a 237th ranked non-conference RPI — the worst in the league.
This year Ferry and Co. will look to pad the wins early by facing what appears to be the early favorite for “Worst(/easiest) OOC schedule”, highlighted by a neutral court tip against Pitt as well as a road tests at Penn State and Robert Morris before falling off the cliff all the way down to seven teams that ranked toward the bottom of D1 hoops this past season, as well as DII opponent, Bluefield State.
Below is the full OOC schedule with last season’s RPIs according to bbstate.com.
Bluefield State = DII
@ Abeline Christian = 343
NJIT = 302
Howard = 324
v. Pitt (n) = 37
@ Penn State = 110
@ Robert Morris = 125
Saint Francis (PA) = 294
UMass Lowell = 280
Maryland Eastern Shore = 348
Texas-Pan American = 312
The Dukes went 4-3 against a number of those teams this past season, defeating Abilene Christian, St. Francis, UMass Lowell and Texas-Pan Am while losing to Pitt, Penn State and Robert Morris.
Duquesne improved by five wins overall from the 2012-13 season to the 13-14 edition but coincidentally picked up seven non-conference wins in each. The Dukes return 56.2% of their scoring from last season while losing leading scorer and All-Conference Third-Teamer, Ovie Soko.
This should be a very winnable schedule for a Duquesne team that, even without Soko, returns a roster more talented than their 2013-14 record reflects. The Dukes finished 5-11 in last year’s brutal A-10 but had seven losses by single digits. They broke SLU’s 19-game winning streak by defeating the Billikens in St. Louis, 71-64.
Still, Duquesne’s inability to challenge themselves prior to A-10 play yet again could ultimately hurt conference RPI, not to mention whatever chances a surprise Duquesne squad would have of securing an at-large NCAA tournament bid come Selection Sunday.