-The Duke Summer Report
-The Duke Offseason Report
-Duke is the best team in the NBA
-The Roy Williams take-down
-The 'Zombie Singler' Theorem
-Duke-WVU Final Four Preview
-Why Duke will not repeat
-Why Duke will repeat, by Tupac Shakur
The 2010-11 Duke Schedule came out, and boy, is it a doozy. There aren’t any real surprises, as most of the marquee games were announced months ago, but nevertheless, let's see how it shakes out.
First and foremost, Duke is going to get tested with some really tough nonconference games early in the season. This includes the other side of the 2010 final four in back-to-back games: at home against Michigan State and then against Butler in New York. Michigan St. is the top game of the Big Ten/ACC challenge (which the Big Ten won for the first time last year) and if Kalin Lucas is healthy it will be our toughest home game, as they bring back almost their entire team except Raymar Morgan. I’m skeptical about how good Butler will be next year with the loss of Gordon Hayward, who I believe is still cleaning up the gulf with his father Tony, but look for Shelvin Mack to be an All-American this year if he lives up to the hype. Both of these should be incredible games.
At the next level of allure, we’ve got Marquette and either Gonzaga or Kansas St. as part of Duke’s early season tournament, the CBE Classic. The CBE final will be one of our toughest games, as Andy Katz has both of those teams in his preseason top 10. Their next game will be a trip to Oregon for Kyle Singler’s hometown game against his brother EJ. In other words, Kyrie better get his shit together real fast if he’s going to lead the team as a freshman. When you add it all up, Duke has the possibility of playing five top 25 teams in a row, 2 of whom will be in the top 10, all before December 5. All in all, Duke will face 13 opponents who appeared in the big dance last year. Note that this (awesomely) doesn't include our two against UNC.
How important is that? Well, I hate to dive too much into speculation, but apparently our top target Austin Rivers is waiting until a few months into the season to decide where he wants to play. The outcome of this run could very easily make or break his decision, as he’s said he wants to evaluate who’s going to be good next year before he commits.
Anyway, after that stretch we’ve got a bunch of run of the mill games before we hit ACC season. Because of the ACC’s rotating schedule of single games, there’s a certain amount of luck to one’s ACC schedule. So this year, in addition to having a ridiculous nonconference schedule, our ACC schedule is almost as hard as possible. Our three home games come against BC, Georgia Tech, and Clemson, otherwise known as possibly the three worst teams in the ACC next year. Meanwhile, we have to hit the road against Florida St, Wake, and Virginia Tech. Wake should be easy enough with a new coach, but the Seminoles and Hokies will both be legit contenders in the ACC next year.
All told, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Duke will have the toughest schedule in the nation next year. Which will make it that much more memorable when Duke goes undefeated.
Finally, I’d like to give a quick shout out to Kentucky attendee and NBA first round pick Eric Bledsoe. This is a truly inspirational story of a kid that struggled academically all though high school and against all odds managed to earn his college eligibility. How did he do it? First of all, despite having a history of awful grades, the feisty scamp took Algebra III at night school, and he took it before Algebra II. (By the way, there’s three levels of algebra?) In that class, despite having a grade report that indicated Cs, his transcript reflected a nice solid A to keep him eligible. Secondary shout out to his mentor, Kentucky coach John Calipari, who similarly helped Derrick Rose boost his SAT score though with what I’m sure was nothing but tough love and good old fashioned hard work.