By Steve DiMiceli
Today and in record time, Duquesne released the majority of their OOC schedule to the public. Here is a link to the release.
There are still a few blanks to fill in and it's been rumored for some time now that the Dukes would face Georgetown in Washington DC before hosting a pod in the Legend's Classic. In all likelihood, two of North Dakota State, James Madison, Liberty, UC Irvine, and Sam Houston would be coming along with a Division II school.
Comparing last year's schedule to this year, it looks much easier even at a quick glance. As it turns out, it is much easier in terms of where opponents finished in 2011-12 RPI when you break it down. Last year, Duquesne's out of conference opponents averaged 134 in RPI helping Duquesne earn one of the more difficult schedules in the A-10. Using a composite score for the 5 potential pod components, assuming Georgetown would be on the schedule, and that New Orleans would finish around 300, the average of this year's match ups is 184. This is a fairly substantial decrease in difficultly and in my opinion, a very conservative, yet prudent decision. Impressing selection committees seems like the least of the program's worries at the moment, while putting up W's, even cheap ones, should be a priority. This year is about growth and with the light schedule, the team could surprise people as long as those surprised people don't look at our strength of schedule.
While there are a number of seemingly weak teams from weak conferences, the Dukes will go on the road 6 times. 3 of those games will be against mid major, 150+ RPI schools like Albany, Appy St, and Louisiana. In a neutral setting, I expect even a rebuilding Duquesne team to win more often than not. Going on the road is another story entirely. I would circle these games, because how the Dukes fair in them might determine how far they go this year.