We’ve got about a month of data under our belts and that’s enough to blow some preseason prognostications sky high. Coming into 2013-14, I projected the Dukes to finish 14-15. Rogabee did the same. I think we both scoffed at what looked like an OOC schedule loaded with cupcakes before the grind of Atlantic 10 play. Some of those cupcakes don’t look as appetizing as they once did while some games in conference that I marked as wins look more difficult. Of course, those games have balanced out with other league teams under performing.
Shortly after the Duquesne basketball schedule came out, I broke down the out of conference and Atlantic 10 opponents into 5 categories of varying degree of difficulty. I’ll look at the rest of the season through those same glasses.
Games I Would Be Shocked If The Dukes Lost (1-1)
Prior to the season, I thought seven opponents would end up with a 300+ RPI and I labeled this group as “Games I Would Be Shocked If the Dukes Lost.” Only four still project above that range currently on RPI Forecast with two others looking border line including Appalachian St who I rated higher in my original breakdown. Many of these lower level opponents looked likely to finish among the worst 20 in the country and now only Abilene Christian appears that bad. The Dukes are 1-1 against this group so far, but I think they could make up for it in conference. In spite of many of these teams looking tougher, I’d still be surprised if they lost any of them except to NJIT on the road. They should still go 5-2 against the original group at worst.
IN: Appalachian St
Games the Dukes Should Win (1-0)
Among games where I think Duquesne should be favored, I see some movement. I mentioned the swap of NJIT and Appy St above and in hindsight, New Hampshire also belonged here. I originally had both Penn St and Dayton in this category, but I think both have looked better than I expected and I’m moving them to the “Tough But Winnable” grouping. That said, the Dukes should end Robert Morris’ three game winning streak in that rivalry. Unless LaSalle figures their troubles out, the Dukes should split with them home and away. While I won’t put them in this category just yet, George Mason’s visit to the AJ Palumbo Center continues to edge closer to this category.
IN: Robert Morris, NJIT, vs. LaSalle
OUT: Appalachian St, Penn St, Dayton
Tough But Winnable (0-1)
I see the most changes in this category and opportunities to win that weren’t there before in conference. With the schools’ slow starts, I like the Dukes chances on the road against LaSalle, George Mason and Rhode Island much better than I did previously. Of course, I don’t envision the Dukes going into Foggy Bottom and stealing one from high flying George Washington either.
IN: @ LaSalle, @ Rhode Island, @ George Mason, Dayton, Penn St
OUT: @ George Washington, Robert Morris
Upset If We Win (0-1)
Not much more to spell out here.
IN: @ George Washington
OUT: @ LaSalle, @ Rhode Island, @ George Mason
So the gimmes look more difficult but the opportunities to make up for the early struggles are there. I think the home schedule sets up nicely and the Dukes have a chance to win just about every game in Pittsburgh from now until the end of the season. They won’t win every game but only UMass looks out of reach. One month in, I’ll stick with my 14 win prediction.