Preview: Dukes vs. WVU

General Thoughts:

This will be another tough out of conference matchup for the Dukes. Not that expectations should be this high but, if the Dukes lose this game there is essentially no chance that their name will be called on selection Sunday. A win in this game however sets up a possibility for a surprise NCAA bid. Duquesne should not get its hopes up though because not only is West Virginia a more talented overall opponent, they are a bad matchup for the Dukes as well. WVU is big, really big with six players in their regular rotation that 6’7″ or taller. Duquesne has three players that fit that description. It is likely that the Dukes will get dominated on the block and the boards which increases the level of difficulty for such a non-conference win against a BCS conference opponent.

When The Dukes Have the Ball

PPP eFG% TO% Oreb% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl% 3PA/FGA A/FGM
Duquesne 1.092 49 56.7 16 21.9 199 34.2 123 45.2 55 44.1 4 48.9 135 61.2 310 13 311 9.5 160 45.2 10 70.7 1
West Virginia 0.922 53 42.4 26 20.1 218 35.7 253 41 224 25 9 45.4 107 12.7 53 6.9 323 37.1 279 45.1 26

 

The two teams are essentially evenly matched in this regard. Duquesne shoots the three well and WVU defends the three well. With the likelihood that the Mountaineers will control the boards the Dukes will have to shoot incredibly well to have a chance and also take good care of the ball. One area in which the Dukes could attack is WVU’s penchant for fouling opponents in which they rank 224th in free throw rate of all division I teams. Duquesne on the other hand is quite good at getting to the line. However, the Dukes are not particularly good at converting from the line (61.2%) where they rank 31oth nationally. That is peculiar for a team that shoots so well from behind the arc. Those numbers are not likely to be sustained although it is yet be seen which way it will go. It is possible that the Dukes will shoot better from the line to catch up with the three point shooting percentage but it is more likely that the three point percentage will come down. In regards to this game, hopefully it will be the former. In order to earn the advantage I would presume that the Dukes would have to shoot 47+ percent from the field making over 40 percent from long range and get to the line about twice as much as WVU. I don’t see this is likely with the lanky athletes that WVU has which will probably alter the outside shots of Duquense.

When the Mountaineers Has the Ball

PPP eFG% TO% Oreb% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl% 3PA/FGA A/FGM
West Virginia 1.168 8 51.8 74 21.3 59 42 12 52 10 32.4 202 53.3 29 70.6 95 6.6 45 9.1 138 32.7 178 61 56
Duquesne 0.967 104 47.8 144 27 10 40.9 333 41 233 28.3 39 50.7 263 13.7 37 13.3 26 35.4 242 50.3 101

 

West Virginia should have the advantage when they are on offense ranking 8th in points per possession. The Dukes only chance here is to be extra aggressive, force turnovers and shut down the guards completely because they are most likely going to get dominated down low where the Mountaineers are particularly efficient and the Dukes are lacking. WVU converts 53.3 percent of its twos, 29th nationally, while Duquesne gives up a percentage of 50.7% or 263rd nationally. Similarly, the Mountaineers are excellent on the offensive glass picking up 42% of its offensive rebounding opportunities, good for 12th in the nation. Duquesne is about as bad as WVU is good in this area ranking 333rd. It is likely that the Mountaineers will pound the ball inside and dominate the boards which spells trouble for Duquesne’s small rotation.

Final Thoughts:

It will be incredibly tough for the Dukes to pull off the upset in this one despite being “at home”. Playing this game at Consol further complicates matters where there will be ample empty seats which will lead to a friendly environment for WVU. Similarly, it is likely that WVU fans could make their way to the CEC from around the tri-state area. Unless Duquesne puts on a shooting performance like it did against Green Bay or WVU completely does not show up for this game. I expect the Dukes to get pounded inside much like they did in the Pitt game. Ken Pomeroy’s game prediction model gives the Dukes a 34 percent chance of winning the game and projects them to only lose by 4. I think thats optimistic but I hope I’m wrong. Vegas has set the line at 6 and I like WVU in that regard.

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Dukes Defeat Green Bay But Similar Problems Remain

Duquesne improves to 4-3 after an 81-71 victory at UW Green Bay. The Dukes put together a spectacular shooting performance including a 15-17 mark in the second half, one basket short of tying the NCAA record for shooting percentage in a half. The offensive performance was led by Freshman point guard T.J. McConnell who scored 20 points against the Phoenix. The team went 15 for 24 from long range and 21 of 24 baskets were assisted. The game also was played a relatively slow pace for the Dukes, 65 possessions, much lower than the team’s average of 71.7.

While the Dukes performance on offense was stellar, their defensive performance left much to be desired. Similar problems seem to emerge. The Dukes got hammered on the Defensive glass with the Phoenix gathering 50.8 percent of offensive rebound opportunities. I appears as if that will continue to be a problem going forward especially against teams with height advantages. No percentage was given as to the shooting percentage of the Phoenix but a 4-16 effort from three and a 48.3 percent conversion rate indicates a high two point shooting percentage. Defending the rim is a problem for this undersized team which puts much pressure on perimeter defense and forcing turnovers. So far this season Duquense has done well inboth these regards allowing only 28.3 percent from behind the arc and creating turnovers on 27 percent of defensive possessions, good enough for 10th in the nation.

Effectively, the offense has to be potent in order for the Dukes to win games going forward. This club appears as if it is following a similar model set forth throughout the Everhart years. Every contest is a race to 70. If the Dukes are the first to reach that goal they will likely win the game. If they don’t they almost certainly will not. Three point shooting is going to have to remain in order for this team to do damage in conference and increased defensive pressure on opposing guards is the only way to allow the porous defense to be competent going forward. That’s exactly what happened in the Green Bay game and subsequent games will likely be decided similarly.