Pitt finishes playing local teams on Wednesday when they head downtown to the Consol Energy Center to play crosstown rival Duquesne in the 80th meeting of the City Game. This game is always one of the better non-conference matches on Pitt's schedule, although I would hardly call it a rivalry (Duquesne fans may argue with me on that one). Pitt has won 29 of the past 32 matchups by an average of 15.7 points and has won ten straight against the Dukes. Nevertheless, and especially with this year's team, Pitt shouldn't overlook any opponent.
The Dukes are currently 4-2 on the season with a closer than expected loss to Arizona where the Wildcats didn't pull away until late in the game and a surprising 16-point loss at Valparaiso. They've also beaten Akron after the Zips knocked off a pretty good Mississippi State team. In other words, we don't know how well these Dukes will be come season's end.What we do know is that Duquesne likes to score. They're averaging around 79 points a game and shooting around 48% from the field. They have an outstanding guard in sophomore T.J. McConnell, last season's A-10 Rookie of the Year. McConnell is averaging around six assists per game this season and has around a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, all while averaging nearly 12 points a game. The leading scorer for Duquesne is backcourt mate Sean Johnson who scores nearly 17 points a game. Johnson is arguably Duquesne's best shooter, hitting 53% of his shots from the field on the season. The final member of the backcourt is senior Eric Evans. The frontcourt will be anchored by senior B.J. Monteiro and junior Andre Marhold. Monteiro is second on the team in scoring at 15 points a game while Marhold is a solid option in the post for offensive rebounds and getting second chance scoring.
Pitt should be able to attack Duquesne on the glass. The Dukes are one of the worst teams in Division I at rebounding, only getting around 30 rebounds a game, good for 332nd. Since Duquesne likes to get up and down the court quickly, it often comes at the expense of a good defense. The Dukes are allowing 73 points a game and opponents are shooting 45% from the field against them, including 40% from three-point range. On the opposite side of the ball, Duquesne has had trouble hitting the long-range shot, converting only 29% of their three-point attempts. As is the case with many up-tempo teams, Duquesne is looking to force turnovers on every possession. Currently, they are averaging around nine steals a game and have one of the best turnover margins in Division I at +8.3.
Several of the games have been competitive in recent memory and Pitt hasn't been able to run away from the Dukes every season. Obviously, this is a game Pitt should win, but I expect Duquesne to make a game of it in the early portion. I'm not saying it will be a blowout - if anything, past games and this season have shown us already that blowouts are unlikely. But there's a reason Pitt has won ten straight against the Dukes and it should continue Wednesday night from the Consol Energy Center. Tip is at 7 P.M and for once we're not stuck with ESPN3 as the game will televised nationally on CBS College Sports.