No. 6 seed BYU (23-10) vs. No. 11 seed Duquesne (24-11)

Tip: 10:40 a.m. MDT.

Venue: CHI Health Center Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.

TV: TruTV.

Streaming: Max.

Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

Series: Duquesne leads 2-0.

The trends

For BYU: After ending the regular season with an 85-71 win against Oklahoma State, BYU beat UCF in the second round of the Big 12 tournament. (The Cougars had a first-round bye.) But their run came to an end the next day against Texas Tech, thanks, in part, to BYU’s bad shooting day. Last year and in 2022, the Cougars did not make the NCAA Tournament. In 2021, they lost to UCLA in the first round.

For Duquesne: The Dukes are riding an eight-game win streak, which includes four wins at last week’s Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. They beat VCU 57-51 on Sunday to claim the conference crown. This year is Duquesne’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1977.

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Quotable

“Certainly they’re going to feel all the juice that comes with playing in this tournament, but I think we’re pretty prepared to deal with those emotions,” said BYU coach Mark Pope Wednesday. “I think we’re just eager to race out and jump in the fray of this tournament and see what we can do. I feel like our guys are in a good spot.”

“This isn’t about me,” said Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot, who announced his retirement Monday. “It is about a bunch of guys that withstood an 0-5 start in the league, showed enough resilience to power their way back.”

Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot, left, watches his team during a game against VCU in the championship of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament on Sunday, March 17, 2024, in New York. | Peter K. Afriyie

The stakes

For BYU: The Cougars are looking to build on a surprisingly successful inaugural season in the Big 12 and shake off memories of a tough loss to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2021.

For Duquesne: The Dukes hope to send Dambrot into retirement in style by scoring an upset or two in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Players to watch

For BYU: BYU center Aly Khalifa, who became known as one of college basketball’s best passers this season, left last week’s Texas Tech game with an ankle injury. Pope said Wednesday that the team is “hopeful” he’ll play Thursday. If he does, he’ll likely still be dealing with lingering pain, in addition to the various side effects that come with fasting for Ramadan.

For Duquesne: Guards Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark III headline the Dukes’ offensive attack. Grant is averaging 16.7 points per game, while Clark is averaging 15.1. Clark is also known for his defense and earned the nickname the “Pittsburgh Stealer” with his ball-stealing skills.