Playing on the road is expected to be tougher than playing at home. This can safely be called a rule of thumb, although you wouldn’t know it from the results of baseball’s 2019 World Series in which the road teams won all seven games.
Winning away games in the ACC is one of many informal markers of team prowess. Holding your own at home is more common, and more necessary. If you can win the preponderance of games on your own court you’re at least in position for a winning overall record. Especially if, like teams from NC State to Notre Dame to Syracuse, you play as many optional (nonconference) contests in your own building as possible.
Meanwhile road victories are a bit of a bonus. Sure, some teams clearly are better than others and good teams are apt to win anywhere. In fact, some groups, often more veteran units, derive especial pleasure from confounding a hostile crowd.
Still, it’s the rare team that prospers on the road, which is why Duke’s record in away games so far this season provides a subtle, early indication of its strength. (Strength that somehow surprised the basketball media horde early on.)
None of the ACC’s 15 squads had played more than six and fewer than two away games through January 6. Duke and Miami were the only undefeated road teams in the bunch at 3-0 prior to Miami’s Tuesday loss to Louisville.
There’s plenty of time for adversity to strike. As recently as 2017 the Blue Devils were 3-6 in road games en route to an overall 28-9 mark for the season. Last year Miami was 0-10 away from the Watsco Center, 14-18 in all outings.
Duke last was undefeated in away competition in 2000, mirroring 1999.
With double-digit wins at Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Miami, and a date coming up at Tar Heel topper Georgia Tech, the 2020 Duke team is off to a strong road start. So are Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes, drubbed by Duke on January 4th, with close victories at Central Florida, Illinois and Clemson.
Best Annual Records in All Away Games, By ACC Teams Since 2010
(Variable Totals Reflect Differences in Nonconference Scheduling)
|Season||Best (If Single Loss)||Duke Record|
|2019||11-1, UNC @ (Michigan)||7-2|
|10-1, Virginia (@ Duke)|
|2018||10-1, Virginia (@W.Va)||6-5|
|2015||11-1, Virginia (@Louisville)||9-2|
|2012||8-1, Duke @Ohio State||NA|