No. 1 Duke Faces Cal Thursday in Empire Classic at MSG

Coach K | Photo: Chris Summerville

No. 1 Duke vs Cal
When: Nov. 21 | 7 PM (ET)
Where: Madison Square Garden
Watch Live: ESPN2
Links: Blue Devil NetworkRadio Affiliates

  • Ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll for the 143rd time to extend an NCAA record, Duke faces Cal in the semifinals of the 2K Empire Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
  • The game can be seen live on ESPN2 and heard across the Blue Devil Sports Network from Learfield IMG College.
  • The matchup is a battle of 4-0 teams with the winner drawing the Texas/Georgetown winner on Friday night.
  • Duke has won the Empire Classic in each of its last two appearances, and is 10-2 all-time in the event. Under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils are 98-18 (.845) when playing in-season tournaments with 19 titles.
  • MSG has seen the sixth-most Duke wins (36) of any venue in the country, behind only Cameron Indoor Stadium, Greensboro Coliseum, Reynolds Coliseum, and former Duke home venues Card Gym and Duke Gym.
  • Thursday’s game will be the 251st under Coach K that Duke plays as a No. 1-ranked team (216-34), and a win allows Coach K to tie John Wooden (217-11) for most wins at No. 1.
  • The Blue Devils have reached No. 1 at least once in four consecutive seasons, and in 20 different seasons under Coach K — also an NCAA record.
  • In his last outing, sophomore Tre Jones became the first Blue Devil in history with a game of 30+ points, 6+ assists and 4+ steals with 31-6-4 against Georgia State.
  • Freshman Vernon Carey Jr., has recorded back-to-back double-doubles and is shooting .622 this season (2nd, ACC).
  • The deep Blue Devils boast four players averaging double figures in points, five averaging 8.0+ points, and eight players averaging 15.0+ minutes per game.

Duke and Cal have met just three times previously, with the Blue Devils winning the last meeting — March 21, 2010 in the NCAA Second Round in Jacksonville, Fla., behind 20 points from Nolan Smith…The Golden Bears won the first two meetings, coming in 1982 and 1993.

Cal has opened the season with four consecutive wins at home, including a 79-75 victory in overtime over UNLV…Sophomore guard Matt Bradley’s 20.0 points per game leads the team. The San Bernardino, Calif., native is 11-of-21 from three-point range and has accounted for nearly half of Cal’s made free throws this season (23 of 54)…As a team, Cal is shooting .517 from the field and .455 from three-point range…Former Nevada and Georgia head coach Mark Fox is in his first season as head coach at Cal. He’s reached the NCAA Tournament in five of his 14 seasons as a head coach.

Duke has a high level of success in tournaments under Coach K, winning 19 in-season, 15 ACC and five NCAA Tournaments for a total of 39 championships in his tenure…The Blue Devils claimed the PK80 Motion Bracket title in 2017-18, the program’s 19th in-season crown, and last season won the ACC Tournament for the 15th time.

Duke is 8-3 all-time when playing on November 21, with two of those games coming at Madison Square Garden…The Blue Devils beat Michigan, 71-56, at MSG in 2008 in the 2K Sports Classic, and dropped a 98-88 decision to Arkansas in the 1990 Preseason NIT…Duke has been ranked in each of their 11 previous games on November 21, including 10 games ranked 10th or better.

Duke will have played its first eight games this season at arguably two of the most famous venues in sports — Cameron Indoor Stadium and Madison Square Garden…The Blue Devils opened the year at MSG with a win over Kansas in the Champions Classic, and plays their next two in the World’s Most Famous Arena…Its other five have come at home at Cameron Indoor.

In the program’s history, this marks the 143rd week that Duke has been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll — the most weeks ranked No. 1 all-time…Duke climbed to the top spot after opening at No. 4 in the preseason poll and reaching No. 2 following the Kansas win…The Blue Devils ended last season ranked No. 1 for the eighth time in program history — all coming under Mike Krzyzewski, which is a record for a head coach…Duke has been ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll now 88 times since the start of the 1997-98 season, far and away the most in the nation (North Carolina is second, 39)…Duke’s 279 games (240-39) at No. 1 are the most all-time…Under Coach K, Duke has played 250 of those games — also the most in NCAA history for one coach. The Blue Devils are 216-34 under Coach K at No. 1…Under Coach K, Duke has played more games as a No. 1 team (250) than as an unranked team (144)…In 2018-19, Coach K surpassed John Wooden for the most weeks ranked No. 1 by a head coach, and his next win would allow Coach K to tie Wooden for most wins at No. 1…Duke went wire-to-wire in the AP top 5 last season for the ninth time in school history — all coming under Coach K — and Duke’s streak of 23 straight polls in the top five is the nation’s longest active streak…The Blue Devils have also been ranked in the top 10 at least once in 24 consecutive seasons — the longest active streak nationally.

Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden marks Duke’s 55th game at current MSG, and the Blue Devils are 36-18 in the venue (31-11 under Mike Krzyzewski)…Duke is 42-25 in all versions of MSG, dating back to a February 4, 1938, game versus St. John’s…Duke has played at least once at MSG in each of the last seven seasons, in 17 of the last 18, and 20 of the last 22…Duke is 70-27 all-time in the greater NYC area, including games in Brooklyn (7-1) and East Rutherford, N.J. (21-1)…MSG has seen the sixth-most Duke wins (36) of any venue in the country, behind only Cameron Indoor Stadium, Greensboro Coliseum, Reynolds Coliseum, and former Duke home venues Card Gym and Duke Gym…Coach K achieved a pair of milestones at MSG: His 903rd career victory to pass Bobby Knight as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history (74-69 vs. Michigan State, 11/15/11) and his 1,000th career (77-68 vs. St. John’s, 1/25/15).

For a college team that has produced the second most current NBA players (24), Duke has been tough to beat when playing in NBA venues…Duke is a combined 85-30 (.739) in 11 current NBA venues, which includes a 36-18 mark at Madison Square Garden…The Blue Devils have won 16 of their last 19 at NBA venues, including a 118-84 win over Kentucky at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in last year’s Champions Classic, a 69-58 win over Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden last December, going 3-0 in the 2019 ACC Tournament at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, and the win over Virginia Tech in the 2019 Sweet 16 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Duke is making its fourth appearance in what is now called the 2K Empire Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project…The Blue Devils are 10-2 all-time in this event and have claimed the title (8-0) in each of their last two appearances…Duke battles Cal Thursday (9 p.m., ESPN2) at MSG in the semifinals, and faces either Texas or Georgetown on Friday…Duke’s appearances in the event are listed below:

Nov. 11 Stanford               (ot) L, 79-80        MSG
Nov. 12 Connecticut        L, 66-71 MSG

Nov. 10 Presbyterian      W, 80-49              Durham
Nov. 11 Ga. Southern     W, 97-54              Durham
Nov. 20 Southern Illinois                W, 83-58              MSG
Nov. 21 Michigan              W, 71-56              MSG

2015-16 | 4-0 | 2K CLASSIC BENEFITING wwp
Nov. 13 Siena     W, 92-74              Durham
Nov. 14 Bryant   W, 113-75            Durham
Nov. 20 VCU       W, 79-71              MSG
Nov. 22 Georgetown      W, 86-84              MSG

Nov. 12 Central Arkansas              W, 105-54            Durham
Nov. 15 Georgia State     W, 74-63              Durham
Nov. 21 Cal          —             MSG
Nov. 22 Texas/Georgetown         —             MSG

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