Nov 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes guard Desmond Ridenour (32) brings the ball up court against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half at the CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh won 84-67. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down the Non - Conference Schedule

What feels like a long time ago, I broke down the Dukes’ A-10 season based on the home and away pairings released. Now, I’ll have a look at the non – conference portion of the schedule.

Games I Would Be Surprised if the Dukes Lost

(75% chance or better of winning)

vs Bluefield St, @Abilene Christian, vs NJIT, vs Howard, vs St Francis (PA), vs UMass Lowell, vs UM – Eastern Shore, vs UT  Pan American

The Dukes load up on branch campuses and cupcakes for the second year in a row. We saw last season how these games can potentially turn into a disaster with the loss to New Hampshire. Thankfully, I don’t see a repeat in that history. I have this category cut off at 75% of better chance of winning. Really, there isn’t anyone in this group lower than 85% for me right now.

Of course, the shear size of this group increases the chances of a serious upset. In spite of that, I feel fairly comfortable predicting 8 wins here.

Games The Dukes Should Win

(55 – 74% chance of winning)

None

I want to put Robert Morris here so badly. Unfortunately,  this year’s meeting is on the road, comes at the end of tough three games in eight days stretch and Lucky Jones is so damn good.

 

Tough But Winnable (35% to 54% chance of winning)

@Penn St, @ Robert Morris

If the Dukes hope to win more than eight games, they’ll need to find a way to split this one. Penn St is pretty young but talented this season. They’re trending in the right direction. Robert Morris are buoyed by the aforementioned Jones and four game winning streak in the series that gets them the benefit of the doubt. The Dukes will need to bring the intensity in State College while matching it in Moon.

Upsets (34% or less chance of winning)

vs Pitt at the Consol Energy Center

Until otherwise stated,  the Dukes are a clear underdog in this one.

***

I don’t even need to do the percentages here. The reasonable worst case scenario is seven wins where the Dukes falter against one of the weaker opponents. Thankfully, I don’t see that happening but I’m still a little gun shy to suggest in absolute terms that it won’t. Reasonable best case scenario, they take care of business against lower D-I foes and split their in state road slate giving them nine wins. In May, I projected 5-7 wins in conference. When you add it up, that gives you a range of 12-16 regular season wins. Personally, I’m feeling good about the higher end of that range at the moment, but they need to win the games they need to win to get there.

 

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