Duquesne Basketball takes a break from A-10 play to take on Chicago State. Should the Dukes be on upset alert?
In a weird schedule quirk on the season, Duquesne Basketball will be taking on Chicago State, the lone Independent D-I college basketball team. In year's past, the Cougars were literally among the worst programs in the country. To the team and Coach Gerald Gillion's credit, they've been very competitive in their mostly road schedule.
Chicago State has nine wins over D-I opponents, including over Southern Indiana, Valpo, and most famously, at Northwestern. They've shown to be a threat to good teams and Duquesne has shown to be vulnerable since the start of the new year. Here are the keys for the Dukes to get its third straight win before going back to A-10 play.
1. Defend the guard duo of Cardet and Corbett
The strength of Chicago State is in its backcourt led by the two main junior scorers. Wesley Cardet is a former top-100 prospect out of high school who leads them with 18.8 ppg and 2.5 apg on 36% shooting from deep. He's coming off three straight games of at least 26 points, as well as a career-high 30 in the road win over Northwestern. Jahsean Corbett (14.6 ppg and 7.8 rpg) has been a double-digit scorer in all three years, including five games of at least 20 points in the last nine contests.
With both of these two guards listed at 6'6, Duquesne will have a size disadvantage on the perimeter. If those two go off, Chicago State will have a shot at the upset. But if the Dukes' strong defense continues, Corbett and Cardet could have a difficult time.
2. Don't turn it over
Besides overall defense, one area where Duquesne has improved is avoiding turnovers. After a season-high 17 in a loss to Loyola-Chicago, the Dukes have only had 54 total in the last five games, an average of around 11 a game. They only had one total in the second half against Fordham, a team that likes to press and force turnovers.
That's a strength for Chicago State, who gets around 10 steals a game, good for top-20 nationally. That number is skewed due to the non-DI opponents but this is still an athletic team with size. After a strong game as a ball-handler from Jimmy Clark (7 asts to 1 TO), he'll need another game of avoiding mistakes on Wednesday.
3. Dominate inside
One thing that didn't go Chicago State's way was the eligibility of the Bewley brothers. Matt and Ryan were at one point former five-star prospects and 6'9 forwards with potential. However, they were rule ineligible by the NCAA and a judge on appeal, viewing them as non-amatuers. That was a brutal blow for a team with no size inside, with 6'7 forward Cameron Jernigan as the defacto "center" in most lineups.
Duquesne is one of the biggest teams in the A-10, with a number of forwards/wings/centers above 6'8. After his best game in a Dukes uniform, Dusan Mahorcic could feast against this Cougars roster. Just in case there's trouble in the backcourt, the frontcourt will need to dominate, especially on the boards, to get another win.