The Blue Devils currently have the longest nonconference home winning streak in college basketball at 109 games. The last time Mike Krzyzewski’s team lost a game at home to a nonconference opponent was against St. John’s on February 26, 2000. A stunning statistic.
The overall home record against conference and nonconference foes combined is nearly as impressive.
Duke has gone 33-0 in Cameron Indoor Stadium over the past two seasons, and if we go back to the 2000-01 season, the Blue Devils are a combined 209-14. This means that over the past 14 years, the Blue Devils have won 94-percent of their home games. If this was a free throw shooter, it’d essentially be automatic.
Clearly, the numbers show that it’s extremely difficult for opponents to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Yet, is it the toughest place to play in the country?
The answer to this question really depends on how you look at it.
There used to be a time when Duke fans were considered the nastiest in college basketball. While most of it was incredibly creative and unique, the Cameron Crazies also pushed the line with chants, profanity and heckling of the opposition, which led then university president Terry Sanford to write a letter to the student body asking them to clean up their behavior.
The Crazies learned to find an appropriate balance, and seemed to cement a spot at the top of the list of toughest venues and best student section in college basketball.
It also doesn’t hurt that Duke has been one of the consistently elite teams in college basketball over the past 30 years, and the two aspects go hand-in-hand.
Great players want to play in front of the Crazies at Cameron Indoor Stadium. And the Crazies look forward to watching great players and teams during their time as Duke students.
However, depending on which adjective (intense, nasty, mean, profane, loud, etc.) you want to use, there are other student sections that could claim the spot as making their home court a tougher place to play than Duke. Some might take that as a knock against the Cameron Crazies, but it’s actually become part of the mystique that surrounds the program.
In an interview a couple years ago with Yahoo Sports, former Wake Forest point guard Ish Smith talked about how Maryland was the toughest place he played during his time in the ACC. He mentioned how Maryland fans have no filter and would say anything to get in the opponent’s head.
Duke fans who remember when Maryland fans chanted obscenities about J.J. Redick’s family know exactly what Smith was referring to.
Smith also talked about how he looked forward to playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium, despite the fact that the Demon Deacons never won at Duke during his career. I think many opposing players feel the same way about Duke.
The Crazies have become known as one of the most clever student sections in sports, but I think many guys come into the arena looking forward to hearing what they’ll come up with. It’s an intense environment, but Duke has moved past the mindset of doing things that would be hurtful or cross a line that’s too personal.
Other venues and student sections can’t say the same thing. And if that means Cameron Indoor Stadium isn’t as tough a place to play, so be it.
The fact is that Duke has the unique ability to combine being one of the elite teams in college basketball with a fanbase that’s rabid for basketball in a venue that embraces putting students basically on top of the floor. The Kansas Jayhawks are the only other team I can think of that offer a similar experience.
And even if Duke no longer has the meanest fans in college basketball, that 209-14 record over the past 14 years shows the homecourt advantage at Cameron Indoor Stadium is still tough enough.