Duquesne is off to its best start in almost 40 years after notching a 10-3 record in the non-conference portion of its season. The Dukes, despite a recent road loss to Georgia Tech, remain one of the better teams in the conference and will undoubtedly have a good chance at finishing in the top half of the Atlantic 10 this season. Thanks largely in part to an experienced backcourt, the Dukes have shocked many with their impressive start and will look to carry their momentum into conference play. Here’s a closer look at Duquesne’s non-conference performance.
Duquesne is currently ranked 140th by Kenpom and has wins over two higher ranked teams: #117 Milwaukee and #131 Penn State. Despite a pretty record on paper, the Dukes don’t have much substance in terms of quality wins. Sure, beating Milwaukee and Penn State is impressive for Duquesne, but if it wants to show that it belongs at the top of the Atlantic 10, it’s going to need to beat some good teams in the conference.
All of Duquesne’s wins in the non-conference were at home with the exception of a road game against St. Francis (PA). The Dukes were able to sneak by and avoid an upset with a 67-65 win. Their best performance was undoubtedly against Penn State when they were able to beat a Big Ten team by a whopping 26 points back in November.
One of the best parts about Duquesne’s showing in the non-conference was that none of their losses were horrible. All three came at the hands of higher ranked Kenpom teams (Pittsburgh: 26, Georgia Tech: 78, Pepperdine: 126), and the Dukes actually put up a decent fight half the time. Most notably and recently, Duquesne hung around with Georgia Tech in Atlanta for the entirety of the game before falling 67-73.
Pittsburgh is proving to be one of the best teams in the country, as they’ve gotten out to a 10-1 record on the season. A loss to the Panthers doesn’t hurt the Dukes by any means. A home loss against Pepperdine is a game that you can point to that Duquesne probably could’ve won. Despite a very cold night shooting the basketball, the Dukes stayed around in the second half, not letting the game get too out of hand.
Despite the Dukes inability to get a very good win in the non-conference portion of the season, not many people saw them going 10-3 before conference play. The next step for Duquesne is competing in a very talented Atlantic 10. Were the Dukes able to finish in the top half of the conference this season, many would consider it a success and a step in the right direction for the basketball program.