Brigham Young Cougars vs. Duquesne Dukes Pick & Prediction MARCH 21st 2024

Duquesne is part of the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 1977 but making plans to avoid a quick end to its rare taste of March Madness.

The 11th-seeded Dukes (24-11) haven’t experienced an NCAA tourney victory in 55 years and plot to change that when they oppose sixth-seeded BYU (23-10) in the first round of the East Regional on Thursday at Omaha, Neb.

Duquesne has rattled off eight straight victories and claimed a bid by beating VCU 57-51 in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 tournament title game.

“It’s a great team and they’re in the middle of a special season,” BYU coach Mark Pope said of the matchup. “It’s going to be a great battle.”

One day after the Dukes ended their 47-year NCAA Tournament drought, coach Keith Dambrot announced that he will retire when Duquesne’s season concludes.

Dambrot, 65, who once spent two seasons as LeBron James’ high school coach in Akron, Ohio, is 115-95 in seven seasons with the Dukes.

“Hopefully, we still have a good amount of games left,” Dambrot said. “I told the guys ‘We’re good enough to win. We’re going to try to win. We’re going to finish it off strong.'”

Dae Dae Grant (16.7 scoring average, 80 3-pointers) and Jimmy Clark III (15.1, 65 3s) are Duquesne’s top offensive forces. Grant expects the Dukes to have a strong chance at advancing.

“We’ve played high-major teams before,” Grant said. “We’ve played high-major players. Basketball is basketball. March is March. Anybody can be beat in March. It all matters how you’re playing the best basketball at the end of March.”

BYU got off to a 12-1 start and later held its own during its first season in the Big 12 with a 10-8 mark in conference play.

The Cougars thought they deserved a spot in the nearby Salt Lake City subregional but were instead sent to Omaha.

“Listen, it is so hard to get into this tournament, and there are a million different factors, and the fact that we have a chance to go play and go compete is what really matters to us,” Pope said. “And that is where our hearts are right now and being a part of March Madness is really special, and it is hard-earned and an opportunity at the very best you get once a season.”

Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Jaxson Robinson leads the Cougars with a 13.8 scoring average and 73 3-pointers. BYU ranks second nationally with 11.2 3-point makes per game.

Robinson made it clear that Duquesne has the Cougars’ full attention.

“We need to make sure we are prepared, whether we are playing the Dukes or the No. 1 seed UConn,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t matter who it is, we need to make sure we come prepared to play.”

BYU would like to keep Duquesne winless in the NCAA tourney since its 1969 win over St. John’s. But the Cougars have their own drought going with four straight setbacks since beating Iona in the First Four in 2012.

The winner faces either No. 3 Illinois or No. 14 Morehead State on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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