March Madness Tip-Off: BYU vs. Duquesne

BYU enters the tournament as a sixth seed facing 11-seed Atlantic 10 champion Duquesne. The Cougars went this season 23-10 and 10-8 in the Big 12 for their inaugural year in the conference.

“It’s a super physical league, very talented,” said BYU guard Dallin Hall. “Ultimately once you get into the tournament it’s 0-0, fresh start for everyone.” 

So, who is Duquesne? 

Duquesne University is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a part of the Atlantic 10 conference. 

The last time the Dukes went to the NCAA tournament was 47 years ago when they won the Atlantic 10 championship. However, head coach Keith Dambrot announced on Monday that he will retire after this historic season. 

“I think it kind of gives us another incentive to win this game because we want to send him out the right way. He’s never won an NCAA Division I tournament game. So, we want to get that for him,” said Duquesne’s freshman guard Jake DiMichele. 

Some key players to look for are senior guard Dae Dae Grant. Grant was named the 2024 Atlantic 10 Championship Most Outstanding Player. Another notable player is senior guard Jimmy Clark III. Grant and Clark make up most of Duquesne’s offense and average a combined 31.8 points per game. 

“Those two guards, I have no idea how to slow them down actually, so we’ll just see if we can do our best. They’re explosive,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. 

BYU is 15-33 all-time in the NCAA tournament including a 3-2 record as a sixth seed. 

“Everybody is super excited just to be able to get out here and compete against Duquesne. They’re a great team,” said BYU senior guard Jaxon Robinson. 

The Cougars are known for their high offensive style, whereas the Dukes are known for their defense.

“It’s kind of a game of contrasting styles…They’re a very up-tempo team. They like to score the ball at a high rate, and we hang our hat on the defensive end,” said DiMichele. “The key to the game is trying to get them to play our style and not fall into their style of play.” 

The Cougars plan to stick to what they do best and get off to a fast start. 

“We live in transition. That’s where we thrive. So making sure we get out and just not let the defense dictate what we do and just be the aggressor,” said Robinson. 

Some key players on BYU’s front is senior guard Jaxon Robinson. Robinson leads the team scoring 13.8 points per game and has thrived in that six-man role this season earning the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year. 

“Coach just wanted me to make sure that whether I’m coming off the bench or starting that I just focus on winning,” said Robinson.

Another player to watch out for is sophomore guard Dallin Hall who averages 9.1 points per game and is a clutch playmaker. 

“[Hall] has a unique ability to raise up in crucial, key moments and settle our team and make big plays,” said Pope. 

This will be a historic matchup for both of these teams with a lot riding on the line. The winner of this matchup will face No. 3 seed Illinois or No. 14 Seed Morehead on Saturday. 

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