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Devilishly Hot Starts

Duke is off to one of its better starts under Coach K

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NCAA Basketball: Portland State at Duke
Nov 23, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) goes in for a basket against Portland State Vikings guard Tyrell Henderson (1) during the second half of the PK80 Phil Knight Invitational between the Duke Blue Devils and the Portland State Vikings at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 
Joseph Weiser-USA TODAY Sports

They’ve had to rally a few times from formidable deficits against formidable opponents, but entering their game tonight at Indiana the 2017-18 Blue Devils are off to an 8-0 start.

Get past the Hoosiers, and a pair of bops/creampuffs are up next: South Dakota and St. Francis of Pennsylvania. Even more promising, and unsurprising, the Devils face both opponents at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That would send Duke to double-figure wins, where only 15 of Mike Krzyzewski’s previous 37 Blue Devil squads (42 percent) have gone before.

But let’s not look ahead, and instead measure where Duke is as it defends its 16-2 record in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. (The order is which the leagues are listed switches every year.) That’s better than any other school in either conference.

This year’s unit already has done better than a majority of Krzyzewski’s teams (19 of 37, 51.4 percent), which started with seven or fewer wins in a row.

In case you’re wondering, there’s apparently little relationship between starting a Duke season with a long winning streak and ending it with a Final Four visit or an NCAA title. Two of Krzyzewski’s five national title winners (1991 and 2010) won six or fewer at the season’s outset. Six of his 12 Final Four squads started with six or fewer victories.

Most Wins In A Row By Duke Teams To Open Season
Since Mike Krzyzewski’s Arrival in 1980-81
(Through Games of November 26, 2017)
Open Men's Seasons
0 2000 (0-2), 1982 (0-1)
1 2014, 1987
2 2017, 2016, 1995, 1991**, 1983, 1981
3 2004*, 1997, 1990*
4 2007, 1996
5 1999*
6 2010**, 1988*
7 2012
8 2018, 2009, 1984
9 1998
10 2008, 2001**, 1994*, 1993
11 None
12 2003, 2002, 1985
13 1989*
14 2015**
15 2013, 2011, 2005
16 1986*
17 2006, 1992**
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