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Top 10 Duke Basketball Games of the 2016-17 Season

Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) moves the ball against Oregon Ducks forward Jordan Bell (1) during the second half of the semifinal game in the West regional of the NCAA Tournament at Honda Center
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke basketball team finished last season with an ACC record of 11-7 and overall record of 25-11, losing to Oregon in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

For many college fanbases, that would be a great season. By Duke’s standards, it seemed like a down year.

In the past 25 years, Duke has won five national championships – an average of one title every 5 years. No other college can match that performance.

This year, Duke has a top-tier incoming recruiting class while returning veterans Amile Jefferson, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Matt Jones. Duke fans are excited about the possibilities for this team. The sky is the limit.

The 2016-2017 Duke basketball schedule has recently been released and, once again, the Blue Devils should be at, or near, the top in terms of strength of schedule and RPI. One thing is for sure, this team will again be battle tested for March Madness.

With that said, here is my list of Top 10 Duke Basketball games this season in order of when they play:

  1. Marist (home) – 11/11/16

I know what you are thinking…How does Marist make the top 10 list? Here is my reason.

It is the opening game of the season and a home game on a Friday evening. There is a lot of excitement among fans about the potential for this team. You will see a mix of Cameron Crazies and fans in the legendary Section 17 as some tickets were released to fans. There is nothing like being at the first game of the season. Fans will be excited to see how this Duke team begins the year, though I don’t expect this game to be close at all.

2. Kansas (neutral) – 11/15/16

Duke will start the season with back-to-back home games before traveling to New York to play Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic. Talk about coming out of the gate swinging…

This is a potential Final Four matchup, as well as an early matchup between two potential Top 5 teams in the polls. It will be a game fans, NBA scouts, and people everywhere tune in to watch.

3. Cincinnati/Rhode Island (neutral) – 11/20/16

Duke will play Penn State in the early season Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut. Win or lose, the Blue Devils will face either Cincinnati or Rhode Island as their final game.

Rhode Island is at No. 15 in some preseason rankings. Coach K has always taken early season tournaments seriously as one can tell seeing the various early season trophies in the Duke basketball museum.

4. Michigan State (home) – 11/29/16

Duke will host Michigan State as part of the ACC/Big10 Challenge in a potential Top 10 matchup. Over the years, these two teams have had some epic matchups, whether it be 2011 when Duke beat Michigan State in the Champions Classic as Coach K passed Bobby Knight to become the all-time Division 1 winningest coach or the 2015 Final Four when Duke blew out Michigan State by 20 points en-route to beat Wisconsin to win the 2015 national championship.

Michigan State will not have Denzel Valentine, who’s now in the NBA, but the Spartans do still have Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo and a Top 5 recruiting class coming to battle the Blue Devils in Durham. Expect Cameron Indoor Stadium to be rocking.

5. UNLV (away) – 12/10/16

Fans who have been alive since the 90s remember the matchups of Duke vs UNLV in the NCAA Tournament – from the beatdown Duke received in the 1990 NCAA championship game to the revenge Duke had against UNLV in the 1991 Final Four on its way to winning the program’s first national championship. There is history between these two teams. UNLV isn’t listed in the Top 25 preseason rankings, however this is one game at the least older fans will tune in to, just with the history between the two teams.

6. Virginia Tech (away) – 12/31/16

Duke opens ACC play in Blacksburg on New Year’s Eve for an afternoon matchup against Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is my dark horse team in the ACC, and I believe Buzz Williams has the Hokies on the brink of reaching the NCAA Tournament.

The Virginia Tech fan base always seems to bring the football atmosphere inside Cassell Coliseum. I expect to hear ‘Enter Sandman” cranking up on the speakers as Virginia Tech gets ready for a matchup with the Blue Devils.

7. Louisville (away) – 1/14/17

Duke will travel to Louisville to play at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville is ranked No. #17 in some preseason rankings, meaning this game could possibly be a Top 20 or even Top 10 matchup.

Over the years, Duke has had some epic contests with Louisville. From the Blue Devils pulling out the win against Louisville to win the Battle for Atlantis in the fall of 2012, to Louisville rallying back from Kevin Ware’s injury to beat Duke in the Elite 8 of the 2013 NCAA Tourney, these two teams have played each other on the big stage.

8. North Carolina (home) – 2/9/17

This rivalry needs no introduction. The Tar Heels will travel eight miles down the road to play in front of a rowdy group of Cameron Crazies who will have finished camping out in Krzyzewskiville for weeks just to get into the game that is the biggest rivalry in sports.

North Carolina will be without the leadership of Marcus Paige and the athletic Brice Johnson, but UNC does return key players Justin Jackson, Joel Berry and Kennedy Meeks. It’s a potential Top 5 matchup, and the Cameron Crazies always bring their A game for this one.

9. Virginia (away) – 2/15/17

Rest assured this game will be marked on the Cavalier coaches, players and definitely the fans’ calendar when Duke heads to John Paul Jones arena to play Virginia.

Last season, Duke won an epic matchup against UVA when Grayson Allen made the buzzer beater shot in Cameron Indoor Stadium in what was an intense game. Look for Virginia to want revenge at home. UVA has a top 10 recruiting class coming in as well as Memphis transfer Austin Nichols. This game has the potential to be one of the best of the ACC season.

10. North Carolina (away) – 3/4/17

Duke will finish the series with North Carolina in Chapel Hill at the Dean Dome on Saturday, March 4th for the final game of the regular season. One would think it’s pretty much a lock that ESPN will once again bring its crew to do a live taping of ESPN College GameDay at the Dean Dome. This game could also have a major impact on ACC & NCAA Tournament seeding.
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Duke will play 10 (possibly 11 with Cincinnati) out of its 31 regular season games against NCAA Tournament teams from last season – Kansas, (possible Cincinnati), Michigan State, Miami (home & away), Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Syracuse, and North Carolina (home & away).

These are the 10 games I’m most looking forward to this season. When March Madness comes around, Duke will once again be battle tested and ready.

Did I miss a game? Let us know in the comments section below.

You can follow Freddie on Twitter @Skeelow22 or his blog at skeelowdukefan.com

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