The Duquesne women’s basketball team working out at the Palumbo Center.
Coach Dan Burt upon getting the job said in his acceptance speech that he was “given the keys to a Corvette. I have not been given the keys to a clunker. … It’s my responsibility to get us to that NCAA tournament.” It sure looks that way Coach Burt, and here’s what I think you and the team will have to do record-wise to dance this year.
Out of conference. Anything less than 10-3 likely puts the Dukes out of contention early. In a league like the new Atlantic 10, teams will need to make a statement out of conference to have a shot at the tournament as there simply won’t be enough chances in conference play. This is even more true now with the Atlantic 10 going to 16 conference games rather than 14. To get to 10-3, the Dukes will likely need at least three victories against DePaul and Pitt on the road, neutral to Notre Dame, home to Green Bay, West Virginia, and Providence. It can be done: the Dukes have beaten both WVU and Pitt each of the last two years, and Providence figures to be near the bottom of the new Big East. If the only losses are at DePaul, neutral to Notre Dame and home to what figures to be a top 25 Green Bay team, the Dukes will certainly have a shot. An unexpected loss will require a quality win to match to get back to 10-3 or better.
In conference: Looking at the A-10 this year, the conference seems to have a lot of solid but not exceptional teams, where there are 2-3 NCAA caliber teams with 7 of the 13 teams figuring to at least make the WNIT. The Dukes will likely need to go 13-3, perhaps 14-2 in this year’s Atlantic 10 to have a shot at dancing provided they don’t win the tourney. A third-place or higher finish in the regular season is also likely a must-have for a resume. They also will likely need at least one win – regular or postseason – over either Dayton or St. Joe’s.
Conference Tournament: Presuming the Dukes get one of the three byes (if they don’t, they’ll likely have to win the tournament to dance anyway), the goal for the Dukes should be to get to 15 total conference wins counting the postseason. If the Dukes go 13-3, then they’ll likely need to reach the finals (get two more wins) to dance. At 14-2, a semifinal loss may do. Then again, Coach Burt repeating Slosky’s success at replacing the best coach in program history and winning the Atlantic 10 postseason tournament would be great!
Clearly, these projections were made without knowing what the bubble will look like this year. However, guessing at the strength of schedule for the Dukes, these are the likely requirements that are subject to change based on how strong or weak the other bubble teams are this upcoming season.