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FanTake: How Will 2016’s Duke Basketball RPI Measure Up?

Matt Jones Duke
Photo: Mark Dolejs-USA Today Sports

Most NCAA preseason basketball polls rank the Duke basketball team at No. 5 or 6 in the nation for the 2015-16 season.

Mike Krzyzewski has never been known to pad his schedule with inferior competition. Of course, he does give a smattering of unranked teams a chance to measure themselves against Duke. For example, one of these teams will be VCU—a team which is always dangerous, though perhaps unranked in the preseason.

Duke’s RPI almost invariably ranks among the highest in the nation. Will the 2015-16 season be any different?

Well, the season starts with a bang.

After a few warm-up games, Duke will face Kentucky, the No. 3 team in many preseason polls. Of course, the Wildcats will not only have a few outstanding returnees in Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee, and Tyler Ulis, but will be packed with John Calipari’s usual 5-star entourage of incoming freshmen.

A few games later, Duke will play either No. 24 Wisconsin, which may rank higher by then, or Georgetown, a team a few pollsters rank within the Top 25.

Next, Duke will face a very tough No. 14 Indiana, stacked with well skilled returnees such as Yogi Ferrell and fine recruits.

A few games later, Duke will also play the No. 13 Utah Utes, which gave Duke a fierce run for its money in the NCAA Tournament. The towering presence of Jakob Poeltl and experience of Brandon Taylor will be the cornerstones for this team.

When Duke crashes into the ACC schedule, they will, of course, face UNC, a team that is ranked either first or second in most preseason NCAA polls. The Tar Heels only lost one starter and with a healthy Marcus Paige and veteran standouts, it will be difficult to withstand their firepower.

Duke will also play the defensive juggernaut, Virginia, a team ranked No. 4 in a preseason poll. The Cavaliers have only lost one star player in Justin Anderson.

Then, of course, there is the Notre Dame team that turned the NCAA tournament on its head this past year. The Irish only lost two starters and will still likely be underrated.

So, Duke will play four games with teams now ranked in the Top 5. The Blue Devils will face seven teams in the top 25. That should make for a pretty formidable RPI score.