ESPN’s Jeff Goodman has a list of the 12 most anticipated games of 2016-17 and four of them involve Duke. Here they are:
- Duke vs. Kansas
- UNC @ Duke
- Michigan State @ Duke
- Duke @ Syracuse
Goodman picks Kansas over Duke in New York on November 15th and gives KU the edge based on experience.
That’s not illogical, but if you go down the years and look at Duke’s early-season performances, you’ll see that Duke usually does very well in the early season.
Since 2010-11, Duke is 82-6 in non-conference play (we’re talking about early season play, not late, so we’re counting games before ACC play, not after).
There’s a reason for that. Well two.
First, like most successful programs, Duke should win most pre-season games.
Secondly, Duke gets more done early than almost any team in college basketball. Practices are highly organized and productive and new players are quickly incorporated into the system, starting in the summers. It’s hard to sneak up on Duke early.
Below are the losses since 2010-11. You’ll notice that four of them were Top 5 teams.
During the same seasons, Duke defeated teams ranked #4, #6, #15, #14, #3, #2, #4, #19 and #2.
Kansas may well win - that’s an outstanding team as well - but betting against Duke early is not usually a good move.
- 2010-11: 0
- 2011-12-: #2 Ohio State 85 Duke 63/Temple 78 Duke 73
- 2012-13: 0
- 2013-14: #5 Kansas 94 Duke 83/#4 Arizona 72 Duke 66
- 2014-15: 0
- 2015-16: #2 Kentucky 74 Duke 63/Utah 77 Duke 75