My tweet from last night just after the William & Mary game sums up my feelings on this preview series nicely.
You can check out my original projections below:
Based on the team’s performance last night, I think it’s fair to say my outlook is fluid at the moment. I re-evaluated some of my game ratings and bolded the ones that changed categories.
Upsets if the Dukes Lose (>85% chance of winning) –
vs. William& Mary, vs NJIT, vs. UMass – Lowell, vs. Longwood, vs. UMES, vs. Maine, vs Eastern Kentucky, vs. Fordham, vs. George Washington,
This category swelled from 6 to 9 after yesterday’s win. My jitters aside, this team should handle NJIT now and despite the scheduling challenges revolving around Eastern Kentucky, I think the Dukes should find a way to gut that out. I’d be shocked if William & Mary turns to an L. I think they have that one in the bag.
Games the Dukes Should Win (60-85% chance of winning)
vs UIC, vs. Pitt. vs. Saint Bonaventure, @ Fordham, vs. Dayton, @ George Washington, @ La Salle, vs UMass
I moved a couple of non-conference games here. I like their chances a heck of a lot better on the road in Philadelphia against La Salle. UMass was borderline for me before and last night’s performance was enough to push it up.
Coin Flips (40-59% chance of winning)
vs. Radford (in Akron), vs. Marshall, vs. VCU, vs URI, @ Dayton, @ Richmond, @ St Bonaventure
My biggest concern with the Marshall game was team chemistry against a tough opponent early in the season. Turns out the Dukes have chemistry to spare, so I would move that one into the coin flips. The combination of Duquesne’s win and Richmond’s loss to Longwood switches them from borderline Tough but Winnable to borderline Coin Flip. I kept Radford here because I still have some uncertainty about how the team will perform in a neutral location.
Tough but Winnable (16-39% chance of winning)
vs. Penn St, vs St. Jospeh’s, vs. Saint Louis, @ George Mason –
The big and maybe surprising mover here is Penn St. I don’t like the Dukes chances, but I think they could steal any game in Pittsburgh now.
Upsets if the Dukes Win (1-15% chance of winnings)
@ Notre Dame, @ Davidson, @ Saint Louis
No changes to these tough road contests. They all stay in the upset category.
So based on my original numbers heading into last night’s game, I thought the Dukes would finish with anywhere from 14 to 19 wins. That’s a huge range and even before seeing this team play a likely improvement in RPI over last year even if they finished with a losing record thanks to the increase in strength of schedule. Of course, I would have said that’s a little conservative on the low end.
Based on my do over numbers, I would put Duquesne between 17 and 21 wins overall with 8 to 11 victories in conference. At either of the spectrum, that would give them their second consecutive winning season with a team that loses no one to natural attrition heading into 2019-20 or an NIT bubble team that could move to in if they win a couple of games in Brooklyn. 8 to 11 wins in league play would have gotten them anywhere from a 9th seed to a bye in the A-10 tournament last year.
This team’s ceiling looks a lot higher than it did 24 hours ago thanks to a great season opening performance. I didn’t know what to expect from Duquesne but neither did William & Mary. It’s possible that teams will tighten up against the Dukes given some game footage, but just as likely the team will gel and show a few more tricks they have up the old sleeve.