DU MBB to open season with three games at Louisville event

Courtesy of UNC Greensboro Athletics | UNCG guard Isaiah Miller ascends for a dunk against Mercer in 2019. Miller, named both the 2019-20 SoCon Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, is one of the premier players Duquesne will face at Louisville’s multi-team event, which begins Nov. 25. DU and UNCG will play each other Nov. 29 at UL’s KFC Yum! Center.

Adam Lindner | Sports Editor

Nov. 5, 2020

Honey Baked Ham turkey devourers and college basketball loyalists alike are counting down the days until late November, which — yes, includes Thanksgiving, but also signifies the beginning of the new college basketball season this year.

Much to the delight of Duquesne fans, it’s now clear when, where and who against the Dukes will open their 2020-21 season.

On Nov. 3, Louisville released the dates and matchups for its multi-team event — which includes Duquesne, alongside seven other visiting teams. Officially dubbed the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic, the event is set for Nov. 25 to Dec. 4 at UL’s KFC Yum! Center.

DU will play three games in Louisville, opening with a game against UNC Greensboro on Nov. 29 before facing Winthrop on Dec. 1, then Little Rock on Dec. 3. The UNCG and Winthrop games are part of the Tipoff event; the Little Rock game will be played at the same location, but will simply count as a regular non-conference game.

“We’re excited to be part of the field and look forward to facing three quality opponents,” Head Coach Keith Dambrot said in a team release. “All three programs are talented, well-coached and have a winning pedigree. It will be a great early-season test for our team.”

In addition to Louisville, four other teams will be on site: Seton Hall, Western Kentucky, Southern Illinois and Prairie View A&M.

The MTE, which will be hosted in a bubble-type environment in an effort to repel the threat of COVID-19, is one of the biggest university-hosted MTEs to have been announced at this point in time.

Within the bubble, there will be two practice courts, with one in the KFC Yum! Center and another that will be installed in the ballroom of the Galt House Hotel, where each of the nine participating teams will stay. Teams will eat their meals in the hotel, and a weight room will also be temporarily set up in the Galt House for the teams’ usage.

The hotel is connected to the arena via an elevated walkway, allowing the participating teams to remain in a singular location for the entirety of their respective visits to Louisville. The only exception would be a potential bus trip to the Planet Fitness Kueber Center, which is Louisville’s on-campus practice facility.

COVID-19 testing and health protocols will be in place for each participating team in accordance with the ACC’s guidelines.

While the event’s dates and opponents have been determined, game times and TV assignments will be announced at a later time.

Although the Dukes didn’t land a high-major opponent in Louisville or Seton Hall, the team did receive a strong grouping of opponents in UNCG, Winthrop and Little Rock.

A staple atop the Southern Conference for years, UNCG figures to be one of the conference’s top outfits once again this season. The Spartans are led by high-flying senior guard Isaiah Miller, who was named both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the SoCon last season. The Spartans lack frontcourt depth — especially following the loss of graduated center James Dickey — but make up for it with stellar guard play; sophomore guard Keyshaun Langley should be expected to take a big step forward in 2020-21.

Winthrop paired a 24-10 showing with a Big South championship title last season, and enters the new season with hopes of conference supremacy once again. The losses of two double-digit scorers will hurt, but the Eagles return a veteran guard group. 2019-20 Sun Belt Conference champion Little Rock rounds out the Dukes’ field of opponents in Louisville; the Trojans return their entire roster, including conference POY candidate Markquis Nowell.