Know the Tourney Foe: BYU prepares for Duquesne in NCAA Tournament

After a 2 year absence from the NCAA Tournament the BYU Basketball team are dancing once more. For the first time since December 30th the Cougars will face a non Big 12 opponent in Omaha on Thursday morning. The opponent is the Duquesne Dukes the winner of the Atlantic-10 Conference.

It is likely that many BYU fans are unfamiliar with the school out of Pittsburg Pennsylvania, so here is a deeper look at the 2023-2024 squad that will look to end BYU’s magical season.

A big time hot streak

On February 23rd Duquesne lost a road game to Fordham 79-67. The loss put their record at 16-11. The NCAA Tournament was not even in the picture. 22 days later the Dukes hoisted the Atlantic 10 Tournament trophy. This came after an impressive 8 game winning streak that included a win over then No. 24 ranked Dayton.

The beginning of the conference slate was tough for Duquesne as they lost their first 5 game. The Dukes then went on to win 15 of their next 18 as they earned the 6 seed in the conference tournament. Coming into the NCAA Tournament Duquesne is red hot and peaking at the ideal time.

A defensive focus

A glance at the numbers show that the Dukes hang their hat on their team defense. Duquesne have held their opponents to an average of 66.0 points per game which is second best in the A-10. During their 8 game win streak they are holding teams to an average of 59.0 points per game. As a team they have been especially proficient in limiting three point makes. Teams only average 6.5 made 3 pointers per game. BYU is second nationally in 3 pointers made per game with 11.3. This could be an incredibly important focus for the Dukes if they are to pull off the upset. Duquesne has also been able to force 13.3 turnovers per game which is good for second in the conference.

Offensively the Dukes have not had as much success. Their 70.8 points per game ranks 13th in the A-10. As a team they are only shooting 43.7% from the field. Even though the are riding high on 8 straight wins they have only averaged 68.13 points per game. Duquesne has also posted a -1.5 in turnovers, so ball security will be important for them in a game against an AP top 25 team.

A dynamic duo

When evaluating the Dukes offensive production it is easy to see that this team will go however far Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark III take them. The impressive backcourt duo account for 31.8 of Duquesne’s 70.8 points per game. This is nearly 45% of the teams total points. Grant leads the way with an average of 16.7 points per game. Clark III has posted an average of 15.1 points per contest while also leading the team in assists at 3.8 per game and 2.4 steals which is good for 10th nationally.

Fans will also be privileged to witness a battle of the Fousseyni’s as Duquesne is led in rebounding by senior forward Fousseyni Drame from Bamako, Mali with 5.7 per contest. Sophomore big man David Nixon also contributes 7.1 points per game while also leading the team in blocks at 1.6 per game.

Conclusion

BYU has not made it to the round of 32 since 2011. With what many consider to be a favorable matchup they could potentially end that streak on Thursday the 21st. However, they face an incredibly motivated and red hot Dukes squad that is playing for more than just tournament glory. Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot announced his retirement following the Duke’s final game this season. With that in mind the Cougars will need to come out ready to trade blows with a dangerous opponent looking to send their head coach out in style.

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