The third season was a charm for Duquesne!
For the 2nd time in 3 years the Duquesne Dukes made it to the NCAA Basketball finals. This time they did not come home empty handed. Winning the championship will help erase the disappointment of losing in the finals 2 years ago and and the even more disappointing first round defeat in last year's tournament.
It was a roller coaster season that saw the Dukes ranked as high as a top 5 team and at times not ranked at all. Duquesne won several big games and had a few discouraging let downs along the way, including a loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament final. As a result of their inconsistency, the Dukes received the #8 seed in the South Region bracket.
The tournament proved that anything can happen in the postseason. After a first round win against Minnesota, the Dukes expected to take on powerhouse and #1 seed Arkansas. But fate had a different plan. Arkansas was upset by #16 seed and play-in winner Rider. Duquesne was able to avoid upset and ended Rider's historic run in the 2nd round, advancing to the Sweet 16.
The Dukes had now proven itself to be a contender, but they were far from their goal and many giants stood in their way. The Sweet 16 saw Duquesne taking on reigning NCAA Champs and former rival Butler. Fortunately the Bulldogs were not on their game that night and the Dukes advanced. There would be a new champion crowned and Duquesne was one step closer.
The Elite 8 was an even bigger challenge for Duquesne. They narrowly defeated #3 seed and 29 game winner Washington State to advance to the Final Four. Their next match up came against arguably the hottest team in the tourney, #15 seed Georgia. The Dukes avoided falling to the upstart Bulldogs, ending their Cinderella season and historic run.
So it was that the Duquesne Dukes found themselves in the NCAA Finals for the 2nd time in 3 years. Their opponent would be another #8 seed and another team that had been on fire, the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes had played in one of the best conferences in the league and held their own all season long. They were also on a roll at the perfect time. After winning the ACC tourney, The U had rolled off several wins against quality opponents to make the finals. Luckily for Duquesne, the chemistry the Canes had at the end of the season and all tournament long was not with them in the finals. The Dukes were able to take advantage of early starts and some hot shooting to defeat Miami and bring home the Championship banner. Duquesne can now rank itself among the league elites. Another run next year might get people saying "Dynasty"
Thanks to Flex for running this tourney. Once again one of the best on the site. I look forward to next season and all the friendly competition!