BYU vs Duquesne game prediction

The Cougars take the court against Duquesne for their first matchup of March Madness. Who do we think will win?

BYU practices in Omaha before their matchup with Duquesne
BYU practices in Omaha before their matchup with Duquesne / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

For the first time since 2021 and for the third time in the last decade, BYU will take the court of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars haven't won a tournament game since the 2011 Jimmer squad made a run to the Sweet 16 (*sigh* what could have been). In their first year with the Big 12, BYU has exceeded all expectations and reached the basketball mecca. The eyes of the basketball world will fall on the tournament for the next few weeks, and on BYU.

The Cougars will be taking on the Duquesne Dukes, champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, in the first round. Cougar fans everywhere are trying to temper their expectations for the team--we've been hurt before. But should BYU fans' expectations be set high? How does BYU match up with their first-round foe, and what should be expect from the Cougs in March Madness.

The first thing to keep in mind with March Madness is that it gets its name from somewhere. Any team could lose any game at any time, and it will happen to 67 teams this postseason. In the first round, 32 teams will have to pack their bags and get sent home. All of those teams will be sad to get an early exit--some more than others--but each team will be fighting to play a second time.

Mark Pope
Mark Pope during his team practice in Omaha. I love this picture. / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

BYU enters this game as the favorite to win. Duquesne is one of many "bid-stealers" in this tournament--a team who won their conference tournament despite not being a likely tournament team had they lost before their championship victory. For BYU, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because this means that Duquesne is a lesser opponent than a typical 11-seed, in theory. BYU is under-seeded in their region, meaning they are primed to overachieve, and Duquesne doesn't have a tournament resume compared to several other 10 and 11 seeds.

But don't think for a second that because Duquesne doesn't look the part they'll roll over and let BYU walk all over them. This team is going to fight. The Dukes are fighters, and they play hard. Duquesne prides itself on playing defense and forcing its opponents to be uncomfortable. With strong guard play, their perimeter defense might cause trouble for BYU since they are so reliant on outside scoring.

Also worth mentioning is some of the outside support the Dukes are receiving, most notably their coach's retirement, which will go into effect after his team is knocked out of the tournament. This is getting lots of national attention, mainly due to his connection with LeBron James. Coach Dambrot was James' high school coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and the NBA star's public support of the coach could make this team the fan-favorite of the matchup against BYU, and the team will be playing for their coach. It won't be easy.

BYU vs. Duquesne Predictions:

Hayden Borg, my fellow writer for Lawless Republic shared his thoughts on this game: "Duquesne wants to slow the game down and rely on their defense and BYU wants to play fast, so something has got to give. I think BYU's size and defense end up being the X factor in this game. As long as BYU takes care of the ball and hits some shots, then the Cougars should be just fine today."

Hayden's prediction: 78-70, BYU

I think this game will be a great way to see how BYU handles adversity. The Cougars will need to be dynamic and malleable to overcome the difference in styles between these two teams. I believe that BYU is the superior team, and can make Duquesne bend to their will; they should be able to overpower this team. You can never be sure which BYU team you'll see, but I think this should be a good chance for BYU to get into a flow and set themselves up for a strong tournament showing. Don't overlook the Dukes, but just share the ball, take good shots, and play your game. If they can control the game, BYU will come out with a W.

Calvin's prediction: 80-68, BYU

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