On Thursday Duke released the full schedule for the 2017-18 season. There are several intriguing matchups on paper for a Blue Devil team that is currently the favorite to cut down the nets in San Antonio:
— Brant Wilkerson-New (@BrantGNR) August 22, 2017
Taking a quick glance at the ACC portion of the schedule, Duke seems to have lucked out by getting Florida State, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Syracuse all at home and not on the road. Those have been notoriously tough road games in the past, no matter how well the other team is playing at the time.
Must See Match-ups
Duke will have a few games to work on their chemistry and their lineup before they head to Chicago to face National Championship contender Michigan St. The Spartans will be bringing back Miles Bridges, who surprised many by returning for his sophomore year, Cassisus Winston, Joshua Langford, as well as adding talented freshman forward Jaren Jackson. While Coach K has Tom Izzo’s number, this could be one of the few times Izzo leaves the victor.
This matchup isn’t guaranteed as Texas must beat Butler first, however, if the Longhorns advance it’ll be a game everyone will tune in for. One of the main reasons is highly touted freshman Mohammed Bamba chose the Longhorns over Duke. They also landed PG Matt Coleman who took an official visit to Durham. Like the Spartans, Texas will have a nice mixture of freshmen and sophomores that could cause Duke problems.
There are a few other potential matchups in the PK80 for Duke that could be intriguing, but wouldn’t take place until the finals of the bracket. The Blue Devils could possibly face the Florida Gators, Standford Cardinal, Ohio State Buckeyes, or the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
ACC-Big Ten Challenge
Duke’s first true road game will come in Bloomington, IN when they square off against the Hoosiers. This match-up would be better if Indiana had their team from last year. They’ve lost four seniors and have a new head coach. While it may not be a close game, it will still be interesting to see how the Blue Devils respond in a hostile environment such as Assembly Hall.
The Seminoles return only one starter from last year’s team, but as usual they will bring plenty of size to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke will be able to counter that this year as they will have several big bodies of their own they will be able to throw at Florida State. Leonard Hamilton’s teams always play the Blue Devils tough. It will be a good matchup for Duke’s ACC home opener.
If you were to ask Duke fans where they dread playing every year, it likely wouldn’t be Chapel Hill. It would probably be Coral Gables, FL. For some reason Duke always seems to struggle against the Hurricanes on their home floor, no matter how good the Blue Devils are. It could be another one of those years. Miami is predicted to finish near the top of the ACC. Even though it’s in January, this match-up could decide who enters the ACC Tournament as the #1 seed.
Virginia starts a tough three game stretch for the Blue Devils. While the Cavaliers are always a trendy pick to win the ACC, Duke seems to find a way to beat them. This year shouldn’t be any different. Games with Tony Bennett’s teams are always low scoring, grind it out affairs which will provide a good test for this Duke squad.
Bonzie, Bonzie, Bonzie. Duke fans will be glad when Bonzie Colson finally graduates from Notre Dame. He is one of those players that always gives the Blue Devils problems. No matter the matchup, they can’t seem to stop him. The Fighting Irish will bring a very experienced team into Cameron and don’t be shocked if they walk out with the win.
Madison Square Garden
The Blue Devils will play their final non-conference game in their home away from home, Madison Square Garden. They’ll be facing a Red Storm team that finished 14-19 last season and looking for a marquee win this season. They’ll have nothing to lose, which is always dangerous against a Duke team who should be heavily favored.
The Blue Devils lost last season as it was the first game without Grayson Allen and their last game with Coach K before he had surgery. The Hokies will bring back several veterans on a squad that could contend for the ACC Title. It’s also the last game before Duke faces rival North Carolina in the season finale. Will Duke be ready or get caught looking ahead to the showdown with the Tar Heels? Blacksburg has always been a tough place for the Blue Devils.
Feb. 8th (Dean Dome) / March 3rd (Cameron Indoor)
Duke took two out of three with North Carolina last year in route to winning the ACC Championship. But it was the Tar Heels winning the National Championship. The Blue Devils will look to continue their winning ways against their Tobacco Road rival. No matter how either team is playing coming, the games are always hard fought and classics.
Regular season prediction: 26-4
The four losses are likely to Michigan St., Miami, North Carolina (in Chapel Hill), and Virginia Tech (in Blacksburg).
We polled the a few of the Duke Report staff to get their opinions:
Brian Evans (@bdotedot)
Duke has what appears to be one of the easiest conference schedules they have had in years. They avoid road games against most of the ACC’s top teams. But with a very young roster it’s hard to predict how well the team will actually perform. Outside of the games against UNC I’m most looking forward to the potential matchup against Texas in the PK80, just for the opportunity to play against Mo Bamba. Also the trip to Indiana for the ACC Big Ten challenge will be the first road test for a very young team in what should be a tough environment. In the ACC I’m looking most forward to Notre Dame coming to Durham. It seems like every game between these 2 teams is an instant classic and with Bonzie Colson returning for his senior year, the Irish should be one of the favorites to win the ACC. Duke will have some growing pains this season, but with their schedule they might not show up in the results. Overall I’m predicting just 4 losses for the Blue Devils
Freddie Skeelow @skeelow22
The games I’m looking most forward to are the following.
Elon – It’s a Friday game and is the first game of the season. The Cameron Crazies will be hyped up. We finally get to see what this team is about.
Michigan State – Two top teams playing each other. The history runs deep in this series. From win #903 for K to become the all time winningest coach to Duke blowing out Michigan State in 2015 Final Four on its way to championship #5. This series with Michigan State always lives up to the hype.
The PK 80 Tourney will be fun to watch as well with elite teams playing in an early season tournament.
UVA – The Cavaliers have been a top tier ACC team over the past few years. It will be hard to beat the Grayson Allen buzzer beater from two years ago but I’m still looking forward to the game.
UNC – These games are always marked on the calendar for Duke and UNC fans as it is the biggest rivalry in all of sports!
Duke’s record I think will be 26-4.
When you’re a fan it’s really hard for me to pick Duke to lose any games but they will fall to…
Michigan State – They will have more upperclassmen. Duke will still be figuring things out this early in season.
FSU – Any game being played after a break such as Christmas is a trap game home or away for any team. A 10 day layoff might have Duke rusty.
Miami – It’s in Miami and they seem to have our number over last few years. If my picks are right this would put Duke at 3 losses in January. Fans will start to panic (remember January 2015?) then Duke will run through the ACC the rest of the season with a possible slip up at Blacksburg.
VT – It’s hard for me to pick Duke losing to the Hokies. But this could be a trap game as it’s in Blacksburg with only 2 days removed from Syracuse home game and right before the epic matchup with UNC that Saturday. Buzz will have his VT team hyped up for this game. It is the Super Bowl game for VT.
And NO we won’t lose to UNC. The sweep will happen this year.