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Coach K’s Cake Day Results

A February birthday means K plays on his cake day on a semi-regular basis

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Duke
Dec 31, 2019; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski directs his team during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Today is Mike Krzyzewski’s 73rd birthday. He was born on this day in Chicago in 1947 to Polish immigrants Emily and Bill Krzyzewski.

This is Coach K’s 40th season at Duke, as we are all well aware. Over the years his Blue Devils have played 13 times on his birthday. 2020 is not one of those times.

The only ACC head coach who’s been handed a stress-filled birthday present this season is Pitt’s Jeff Capel, whose Panthers hosted Clemson yesterday and lost for the second straight year on that date (Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday).

Duke, on the other hand, has gone 9-4 in games played on Krzyzewski’s birthday, an opportunity it hasn’t had since 2016.

There are a few interesting twists in the roster of K Day contests.

The opponent in five of those 13 games (38.5 percent) was Wake Forest, which delivered all four defeats suffered by Duke on Feb. 13’s. The teams squared off four times in an 11-year span from 1993 through 2003, back when the Demon Deacons were a first-rank program. The Blue Devils’ only win in that span came in 1999, when they became the last ACC team to go undefeated in league play.

Another K Day quirk: all but four games Duke played on those occasions were at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the home coach was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” from the fans.

The Devils won by an average margin of 17.3 points on K days. As is often the case, averages can be deceiving. Duke’s most recent 2/13 outings were anxiety-inducing victories by five points against Carolina (2013) and one point against Virginia (2016). Those results were counterbalanced by routs of 43 and 35 points over nonconference opponents nearly three decades ago.

The Blue Devils won their last five games on Krzyzewski’s birthday.

Duke Records on Feb. 13 Since 1981 Season
(* Indicates Number of Overtime Periods)
Year W/L Opponent Score Venue
1982 L Wake Forest 71-86 Home
1985 W Stetson 94-51 Home
1988 W Maryland 90-83 Away
1991 W Davidson 74-39 Home
1993 L Wake Forest 86-98 Home
1994 L Wake Forest 69-78 Away
1999 W Wake Forest 102-71 Home
2003 L Wake Forest 80-94** Away
2008 W Maryland 77-65 Home
2010 W Maryland 77-56 Home
2011 W Miami 81-71 Away
2013 W North Carolina 73-68 Home
2016 W Virginia 63-62 Home