Avoiding a Repeat Against NJIT

I'm not a big fan of the Dukes playing home and aways with low majors as I don't see any advantage other than saving the money it would take to buy a game in Pittsburgh. While they handled UMass-Lowell on the road last year and took care of business in a festive atmosphere against Abilene Christian in showcase games for those programs, they took thirty - eight minutes to finally control the game NJIT in Newark last season. It simply doesn't make a lot of sense to put yourself into that position. Of course, the road wasn't the only thing they dealt with last year.

Upsets can happen when you get cheap and go on the road against 300+ RPI schools. Luckily, the Dukes staved off the Highlanders in New Jersey and there are a few things Duquesne won't need to deal with again. First, they won't have to adjust to the goofy sight lines of the Fleischer Center with it's deep endzone and scoreboard at one end.  Next, it won't be their third game in seven days in the middle of conference play. Coming off an uplifting buzzer beater and a near win over a top 15 school, playing NJIT after St Bonaventure and Saint Louis had all the makings of a trap game and the Dukes did come out flat. Finally, the Dukes didn't hit from three until the second half and it seemed like they had a difficult time getting anyone involved besides Ovie Soko.

Thankfully, the Dukes should avoid many of these pitfalls this time around. The Dukes are at home and the game will take place early in the non conference season where it belongs away from any more meaningful contests and with a full week to prepare. We've spoken a lot about the Dukes' depth so it's difficult for me to see another one man show again this season.

NJIT return all of their  squad from last season including  Ky Howard who dropped fifteen against the Dukes and leading scorer Damon Lynn. Lynn struggled from the floor against Duquesne the last go around but is averaging 15.8 a game so far this year. Terrance Jones, who went 10-12 from the floor against the Dukes, has yet to play this season.

The Highlands sit 1-4 with their lone win coming as a 90-86 decision against Maine. They're coming off a close loss to Marquette in Milwaukee. In spite of their 316 ranking on Kenpom, NJIT have yet to truly have their doors blown off with their largest defeat coming against St John's by nineteen.

While it's ok to expect to a win Saturday, I wouldn't expect a bloodbath. The Dukes have a lot going for them that they didn't last year, but NJIT have proven nothing if not pesky the last couple of years. They have solid guard play that seems to be enough to at least keep them in games. While I don't see NJIT rising in stature anytime soon, they have enough that Jim Ferry's squad will need to come focused or they could get stung. Hopefully, the Dukes will close out a series that will never happen again after tomorrow victoriously by avoiding some of the mistakes that made it too close for comfort last year.